J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Category: Writing (Page 2 of 7)

Coming Clean On A Few Things (and an Announcement)

Yes I drink spinach now (sometimes while looking at reddit).

One of the peculiarities of keeping a personal blog is that the things you write about yourself diverge from your current state, either quickly or slowly. I feel an obligation to you, the reader, to occasionally provide an update re: how my views or habits have changed from what I’ve previously written. So without further ado …

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New Published Story “The Fo’dekai Artifact”

My science fiction short story “The Fo’dekai Artifact” appears this month in the web magazine Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores. This is my second fiction sale at a professional rate, doubling my number of published stories and bringing me two-thirds of the way towards joining the SFWA as an active member (which bestows the privilege of voting on works for the Nebula award, among other things).

The story has shades of Cthulhu/Lovecraft, featuring a race of mind-controlling squid-like aliens, but is primarily a science fiction tale that explores one way an expansionistic civilization might spread throughout the galaxy (without giving too much away: tiny ships, storing information in an infectious DNA-like molecule). Thematically, it’s a story about which class and cultural groups might be more open to the possibility of alien immigration/invasion, and why.

Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores charges a modest $1/mo. annual subscription fee (sign up for 2017 here). Well worth it, if you’re a fan of short science fiction and fantasy.

Reference photo: “Underwater Dance” the Russian photographer Willyam Bradbury Stock Providers: “Octopus” http://www.deviantart.com/art/Octopus-473740570 by Kayla Ascencio http://www.kaylafantasyart.com/fantasygallery.html “octopus”  http://mysilentsky-stock.deviantart.com/art/octopus-31560066 and “Tentacles 2”  http://mysilentsky-stock.deviantart.com/art/tentacles2-31560216?q=&qo= by Guyang   http://mysilentsky-stock.deviantart.com/ “Octo ll” http://idnurse41.deviantart.com/art/Octo-II-136435437 and “Octopus Stock”   http://www.deviantart.com/art/Octopus-stock-136411455 by Pamela   http://idnurse41.deviantart.com/

Fiction Writing History and Update

Do we really need more books in the world? Yes. Yes we do.

In 2013, after fifteen years in the underground dance music industry, I got serious about writing fiction and made a real commitment to learn the craft. Since then I’ve worked on short stories or novels every day (either outlining/brainstorming, writing, or revising). Starting in late 2015 I started sending out short stories, and in May of 2016 my first published story appeared in Strange Horizons.

That’s the narrative I’d like you to believe, that I had good run making house music, running a record label, and being a nightclub promoter and then boom, I switched over to writing fiction and sold a story at a professional rate almost immediately.

The truth is messier, with lots of overlap, and many false starts.

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Happy at the Bottom

Recently I wrote about various careers I’ve had and am still having, both accidental and on-purpose. My current sci-fi author career is so fledgling (exactly one published story) that any sensible person wouldn’t call it a career.

My dad says it’s my calling. Maybe it is. But I’m approaching it like a career, methodically and strategically. I write almost everyday, not just when I’m feeling inspired. Even though I have little to show for my efforts (so far), I can’t remember having this much fun trying to build something. At least not since the days I was sending out cassette-tape demos in padded mailers to NYC house music labels (and getting ignored). Or joining Trip ‘n Spin, a disorganized, fun-loving music label/collective in San Francisco.

It’s kinda fun being at the bottom. My friends and family (and maybe even some of you gentle readers) are genuinely rooting for me. A few might think I’m tilting at windmills, but not in a mean way (I may even inspire some to tilt at windmills of their own). I don’t have a professional reputation to protect, because I have no reputation in this field.

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How to Think About Your Career

It’s possible to have a career without really thinking about it. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve had at least three-and-a-half accidental careers so far.

  • I started doing computer support and database design right out of college, just a few hours a week, at my dad’s friend’s company, learning as I went. Ten years later I was the Senior Database Administrator for the San Francisco Symphony, and I still do freelance db work to this day as my main source of income. But none of my friends ever remember this, because it’s so boring that I never talk about it.
  • My record label business partner wanted to start a weekly happy hour at an art gallery. I thought it was a terrible idea. The ayahuasca-snorting gentleman he initially partnered with to throw the event got a little squirrelly and they parted ways. I reluctantly stepped in, and under our management we had a decade-plus run as one of the biggest dance music events in San Francisco, lines around the block, written up in international guide books, DJs from around the world eager to play to our crowd.
  • I had no interest in DJing. But we needed to promote our album. So I learned to DJ at my own party, trainwrecking mix after mix. Spesh put me through DJ bootcamp and I got a little better. Soon we were headlining the biggest dance clubs in San Francisco, voted among SF’s Top DJs in the Nitevibe poll, on the cover of The SF Weekly, and touring in Europe. But eventually I quit because I don’t like travelling, or listening to hundreds of promo tracks to find the few good ones.
  • I started a blog in 2009. I can’t remember why. Probably to practice writing, to express myself, to share my ideas. Eventually some of my health posts (about sleep and artificial light, about the paleo diet) got popular. The blog hit a million views. CNN interviewed me. A TV show The Doctors flew me to Hollywood to be a guest. I experimented with advertising. Then I wrote a post about how I regrew some of my hair by intensively massaging my head, and things went crazy. Views through the roof, readers begging me to make instructional videos, asking for personalized advice. Should I take up hair regrowth coaching? I thought about it. Maybe I could help Tim Ferriss regrow his hair, or Prince William. But I’m not patient enough to be a coach, and I didn’t want to be the hair guy. Or another paleo guy. So I made it clear to my readers that though while I would still write the occasional health post, the content of this blog was much broader (systems for living well, self-experimentation, the creative life).

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Quality Control: Getting the Work Done Despite Your High Standards

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Over the last few years I’ve been compiling notes on good writing technique. My favorite authors have been generous with their advice, and I’ve been collecting it, analyzing it, and trying to apply it to my own work. How to build suspense, how to create relatable characters, how to construct a good sentence, a good scene, a good story.

Two problems …

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