Communion Of Dreams

A graphic novel version?
March 17, 2007, 9:04 am
Filed under: Buffy, Comics, Feedback, Science Fiction, Writing stuff

Someone early on here suggested that I should podcast chapters of the book, which is a rather interesting idea but outside the scope of my time and tech right now. However, how about a graphic novel adaptation of Communion? I’d have to get someone else to do it, since my artistic skills don’t run that direction, but there are plenty of talented folks out there, in a wide range of styles – from Buck Godot to Buffy. Nominations?

Jim Downey

Let’s talk weather.
March 15, 2007, 6:30 am
Filed under: Carl Sagan, Predictions, Science Fiction, tech, Titan, Writing stuff

No, not ours – the weather on Titan. Another news story has come out confirming my prediction in the book: that there is liquid methane/ethane on Titan, probably due to seasonal changes causing precipitation in a manner analogous to rain here on Earth. Well, actually, it wasn’t my prediction – the credit belongs to Carl Sagan, who very early on predicted that Titan’s ruddy color was due to hydrocarbons in its atmosphere, a substance that he named “tholin”. I just stole it.

And here’s a little ‘easter egg’ – the reference to Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot is made directly in Communion in several ways, the most notable is in the scene where Jon is dreaming that he is crossing a bridge which includes sconces containing small blue lights which seem to be receding as he progresses across the bridge. I hope the meaning is clear enough.

Jim Downey

Well, that’s a kick in the head.
March 14, 2007, 7:16 am
Filed under: General Musings, Predictions, Press, Promotion, tech, Writing stuff

So, I was checking stats for the book and this blog this morning, and decided to follow one of the search links shown.  And on that, I saw a listing for a Wikipedia page for me.


No, I didn’t do it.  To be honest, I signed up for a Wikipedia account the first of this year, as I was working to organize the  various components for promoting Communion.   Like this blog, I figured that it was a marketing tool that I would want to have in place at some point, and knew that there was likely a lag-time between signing up and creating pages (a common precaution to limit vandalism on such sites).  But I hadn’t gotten around to doing anything with it yet, being busy with a number of other aspects of this endeavour and life.

But this one was last changed in  June ’06.  And has some dated and slightly incorrect information.  And has me listed as being an ‘Internet Personality’.  Very odd.  But you may be amused to see what it says presently, so I won’t get in there and muck around with it for a while (I *am* still busy).  Have fun.

Jim Downey

Waiting game.
March 13, 2007, 10:30 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Feedback, General Musings, Press, Promotion, Writing stuff

I’m tired.

This stems in large part from the fact that the person for whom I am a care-giver (see this post) has a bit of a cold/flu bug, and so needs more care and attention. As a result, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, and I’m guessing that tonight won’t be a lot better.

So I don’t have a lot of energy. Not for blogging, not for writing, not for doing conservation work. Which creates a certain symmetry with the fact that right now I am largely just waiting for things to happen: waiting to hear back from any of the current crop of agents I’ve contacted, waiting to hear about that article in the newspaper, waiting to get feedback from anyone who is reading/has read the novel. Hits to the site have slowed to just a hundred or so a day, and downloads of the full novel are slowly climbing towards 1900. Everything is on hold, waiting, waiting…

Jim Downey

I’m gonna be famous.
March 9, 2007, 11:06 am
Filed under: General Musings, Press, Promotion

Well, OK, probably not.  And, frankly, I’ve had more than my 15 minutes of fame, thanks to my Paint the Moon project and whatnot over the years.

But I am going to be  included in a feature that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is doing about artists, writers, and musicians who are using the web in some innovative ways to get their work out to the public.  Over the last couple of days the reporter doing the piece and I have chatted by phone and email.  Currently, downloads of the novel are over 1700, and I’ve had almost 9,000 page hits since I put the Communion site up on 5 January.  This article will certainly help to boost both of those numbers, and perhaps penetrate into the press in other ways. I’ll post a link here when it is done.

Of course, as I remind friends and well-wishers, the goal still remains to land an agent who can get me a conventional book contract.  And that hasn’t happened yet.

Jim Downey

March 7, 2007, 7:13 am
Filed under: General Musings, Promotion

Well, the ‘Web Stats’ feature on my hosting account was glitched for the last few days, but they’ve got it working again. Communion has now seen about 1400 downloads. That’s about 400 in the last week.

I said it before, and I’ll reiterate: wow.

3/8 Update: Just checked this morning – added 200 more overnight!
Jim Downey

Questions, questions.
March 5, 2007, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Feedback, General Musings, Promotion, Writing stuff

More feedback from a reader.  Sent this comment (spoiler alert):

I had some serious problems with the Ling character. In a society where children are so rare and cherished, the idea that she might be just wandering the streets was a difficult one. That the scientist Gish might just meet her one day and propose she go on an important scientific mission the next … well, it just seemed too abrupt.

To which I replied:

As to some of your questions about character motivation and behaviour (particularly as pertains to Gish & Ling) – good.  Those are supposed to make you wonder.  It’s starting to build the mystery.  People, and things, are not necessarily what they first seem.  This is a parallel construction to the initial reports of the artifact, and designed to get the reader wondering.  The trick is, of course, in getting the reader to wonder about the nature of reality, of what is really going on, but not about my competency as a story-teller…

Yeah, that’s the trick.  And it is also the trick with getting an agent and a publisher.  Because when a book is published, and gets recommendations, the reader will naturally assume that any such ‘problems’ are intentional on the part of the author, and plow on.  But before then, in the stage where I am now, people don’t have that kind of trust in me.  A first-reader at a big agency or a publishing house is going to hit that stuff and say “gah – this idiot can’t even get past these problems.  Pass.”

Part of me wants to grab people by the shirt collar and shake them, saying “look, just read the whole damned thing, OK, then come back and tell me what works or doesn’t work.”  But that’s not how the game is played.   Instead, most agents and publishers want three chapters to look at, and judge you on that basis.  To be honest, it’s a big part of my motivation for putting the entire book online in the way I have – so that there’s a greater chance that someone who is potentially interested in my book may sample more than just the first three chapters, and realize that there is perhaps more to what I am doing than is evident in the first couple of chapters.

Jim Downey

Someone noticed.
March 4, 2007, 11:24 am
Filed under: Feedback, Heinlein, James Burke, Science Fiction, Society, Writing stuff

Got an email from someone last evening about the book (he had just finished chapter one), and he made the following observation:

One page 1, you speak of “he – he – he,” but don’t initially give us Jon Thompson’s name or description. I can live with learning his name on page 2, but I wonder if you might consider sliding in some sort of physical description of him in this chapter?

My reply was this:

Um, that was a very conscious decision. Nowhere in the book will you find any real description of him. Tied with a fairly “close” perspective with him, it makes it easier for the reader to subconsciously identify with the character, thereby becoming engaged with what happens that much quicker. And congrats – of all the people who have read it and commented to me so far, you are the first to notice this application of my literary theory. If an editor convinces me otherwise somewhere down the road, I might change it.

And I thought I would elaborate somewhat on this.

There has been a lot of scholarship into how a reader interacts with a text. 20 years ago I studied that as part of my graduate work at the University of Iowa. And while I can no longer cite authors off the top of my head, I do know that I drew several practical conclusions from those studies. This was one of them – that allowing the reader the ability to imagine themselves as a character (in this case, the main character) will help transition the “suspension of disbelief” necessary for a work of fiction, particularly Science Fiction.

Different authors do this in different ways. But for me, the most powerful books were always the ones which allowed me to step into the role of the main character – to imagine myself as Muad’dib or Valentine Michael Smith, learning about a strange world and my place in it. With Jon Thompson in Communion of Dreams, I wanted the reader to do the same thing: speculate upon their own understanding of themselves in a world that is changing around them, not through technology, but through revelation. It is James Burke’s The Day the Universe Changed applied to fiction, and hints somewhat at some of the deeper layers of what the novel is really all about.

Jim Downey