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21 October 2014 @ 05:08 pm
Since I'm updating here about my writing and decisions to make, here's another one.

I need a name.

I can't publish under my birth name (Matthew Dunn), not out of any desire for privacy, but because there are multiple authors already using it. Matthew Dunn is a former British MI-6 agent writing Spy thrillers (Spycatcher). Matt Dunn writes British romantic comedies (Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook). Also, there's even Matt Dunn, a NYC cop who loves playing in a Jazz band and he writes about a NYC cop who plays jazz.

I do not want to fight for name recognition amongst these people.

You may be saying to yourself - don't get ahead of yourself Matt. You need to actually finish writing something before you can stress about what name it's going to be published under! And, my response to you would be - wrong! I need to build a website - preferably with my name as a domain name! I need to start blogging to slowly build up a core reader base. I will have stories finished soon, and I need to submit them with the pseudonym in the byline. I need time to mull over possibilities before making a final decision. I can not afford to cross pollinate by publishing under different names with my first several stories.

So, like I said, I need a name.

I do like the typographical rhythm of my name - 7 letters and 4 letters. Just like Stephen King. I say that not because I think it makes me anything like King, but because the typeface to put your first name on top of your last name and have them be the same width is a great proportion. So, I want to keep it as something similar.

Next, I don't think I'll ever get used to answering to anything other than Matt or Matthew, so I might as well just go ahead and keep that. I toyed with switching to Maurice for a few seconds, then realized some people may have trouble spelling it consistently, and I want to avoid that. Although, the 1-T vs 2-Ts problem of Matthew is a constant scourge.

Finally, I need a last name. So, what shall it be? I am leaning towards family names. Without getting into whose last name is whose in my tree, some of the names include Shean, VonKamp (later just Kamp), Drexel, Hall, Brown, Furr, Potter, and Mulvey. I'll nix Potter and Mulvey off the bat. For a while, I've been leaning towards Shean, but then, there's the spelling issue again - is it Shean or Sheen? That could be an issue. I know I mentioned liking 4 letters above, and so I could turn to Hall, Furr, or Kamp, but none of those strike me. Matthew Hall? Yeah, already a novelist. So no go. Furr and Kamp just seem to be inviting trouble.

So, here's the deal. Anyone listening? Anyone reading this?

Does anybody have an opinion on my nom-de-plume?

No worries,
21 October 2014 @ 04:43 pm
So, I want to make a public declaration. But only kinda public. If I did this on Facebook, it would feel wrong, to me, more attention grabby. More, I'm looking to say this out loud and in public to make myself accountable in some way. I don't have an author blog/website yet, and I know that I need to get on that soon. But for now, this is the place to do it. Very few people read this, and I am sure not very frequently, so I know that I am not just looking for 75 'Likes' from well meaning friends and relatives. I think there's maybe 5 of you who will see this, and I really don't care if you skip it. I just need to make this public.

Today is Tuesday October 21st, 2014. I vow to have 5 new short stories written by New Year's Day.


I'm trying so very hard to follow Ray Bradbury's advice. He was cautioning beginning authors about trying to write a novel. Novels often take a year of your life, and the whole way, you are learning how to write. And at the end of it, what do you have? Well, hopefully a novel. But it probably isn't a very good novel, as you were still learning to write. And you still then have to send it to editors and (if it sells) do revisions, etc. You have crafted and created 1 thing in that year, with no idea of whether you can ever do it again.

Short stories, on the other hand, take about a week or two to write. If you took that year you would have spent on your novel, and instead devote it solely to short stories, you could have as many as 50 short stories by the end of it. And I guarantee that in 50 short stories, not every one of them will be bad.

This is all paraphrasing, you see, but his point was, you can learn so much more about writing, about yourself, about your strengths and weaknesses and how to address them by devoting time in your early writing career to short stories.

And I agree.

Now, looking at the calendar that remains for 2014, I see more than just 5 weeks. But, I also see a roadtrip preceding Christmas vacation, and Thanksgiving, and several days where my daughters have off from school, Halloween, etc. I am trying to be realistic about my familial commitments.

Actually, looking at it, 5 stories seems really tight. Like I am setting myself up to fail.

But I am declaring this goal here and now, and by golly, I am going to work super hard to meet it.

Penalty for failure? Doing it all again, and a determination to better learn what writing habits actually work for me. Prize for winning? Doing it all again, and submitting my stories!

Wish me luck.

No worries,
29 September 2014 @ 05:48 pm
Well, It's been about 6 weeks since I quit my job to become a full-time writer. Yay me! Of course, the first 3 weeks of that, I was a full time dad with 2 kinds, no school, and no day-care. So, no writing as well. We had tons of fun. I took the girls to the zoo, the aquarium, the pool; we rode bikes, went shopping, etc. Lots of good quality daddy-daughter time.

The plan then was to give the house a whirlwind cleaning and catch up on 11 years of missed sleep for a few weeks before diving into the writing. That hasn't so much gone according to plan. We decided to go on a camping trip, as a summer's-last-hurrah type deal. But neither DGH nor I had been camping since before Willow was born, our gear was in shambles, and we had collectively forgotten more about planning and executing a camping trip than most people ever knew. So, we were rusty. It took a solid week and a half of going through and replacing bits of grar, scrubbing out the cobwebs, and relearning how to plan meals for a campout, all while keeping in mind the tricky qualities of our young'uns. But, that went really surprisingly well. I'm very proud of it.

Then, the girls started school. This was Holly's first introduction to full time school, and there were some extenuating circumstances, like swimmer's ear, and a severe misunderstanding about personal space on the principal's part, that left a few hiccups and bumps in the road.

But, I am hoping that things are back on track now, and I am so more than ready to start writing. I still need to move (and buy) some furniture, for my writing space in the basement, but I'm psyched about diving in.

Now, I have a new issue. I need a website.

I need a central place for my name, for (and I hate that I am actually going to use this term non-ironically) my brand. There's at least 3 other 'Matthew Dunn's or 'Matt Dunn's that are novelists. So, instead of fighting for recognition among them, I'll be using a more singular pen-name. But, I need people to find me.

Also, I will start some minimal blogging. Partly musing of shifting from an academic research life to that of a writer, but also little snippets of things I'm working on, and eventually, announcements about where to find my publications, how to get your hands on my books, and so on.

I learned HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Perl ages and ages ago, and could still hammer out a functional but ugly page somewhere. But that's always been a problem of mine - my pages are always function, but ugly as all ass.

I technically have access to a webserver - but it is specifically for non-commercial use only, and this ideally would be a commercial venture.

So, my questions to the collective you are 2-fold. What's a good webserver to use for starting a website, and someone dear god someone please help me design this thing!

I've played around with fatcow and didn't like it much. I'm constantly hearing about squarespace, but never looked at it. What about places like wordpress and blogspot? Again, site's I've heard of but never explored. I suppose the best way to do this is to find a website I enjoy, and see where it's hosted and whether it uses a template or is a custom design..... Ugh, who has the time for that?

No worries,
Current Location: home
I'm feeling : adventurous
Currently listening to: : Fa Fa - Guster
26 March 2014 @ 03:39 pm
I can't remember the last time I've posted here, or even the last time I've had the time to post. I'm right now sitting for a 1-hr break during a crazy hectic day, and it's almost stressful to have un-allocated time lately.

I know more or less everyone has stopped posting to livejournal, but I like to know that this is still here for the times I want to use it.

Anyway, nothing much specific to say - I hadn't planned to post anything, I'm winging this one.

Mostly, I'm just saying 'Hi' to anyone who still reads LJ.

No worries,
21 December 2012 @ 03:03 pm
I'm a scientist. If you've known me for more than 30 seconds, you know that already. You may or may not know that I am, depending on what definitions you want to go by, a geneticist, a developmental biologist, a cell biologist, a genetic engineer, and a guy that clones things on a regular basis. I wrote (and got funded) a grant to work with stem cells for the next two years.

I have been sitting on the sidelines listening to a whole lot of people over the past 10 years who don't know jack about my research talking about the ethics of cloning, and the ethics of stem cells, and a vocal minority saying things like, "Just because a scientist can do something, that doesn't mean they should", and "who's watching over the scientists, to make sure they are only doing things that are ethically responsible", and "Science is outpacing ethics". Just because you *can* clone a human embryo, doesn't mean you should.

And I watched as our government has slammed down a lot of regulations telling me what science I can and can't do, based on layman's assumptions of what terms mean, and what scientists are hypothetically capable of doing vs what they would actually do in pursuit of science.

And I've also seen and thought a lot about the legitimate gray areas of where science meets the borderlines of life/death/religion/philosophy/ethics.

What's my point here? Well, let's go back to this quote: "Just because you *can* clone a human embryo, doesn't mean you should." Many state and national governments rushed into legislation over the past 5 years to ban cloning of human embryos. Regardless of whether it was the right thing to do or not, regardless of whether the law had any application to bench work, or reigning in an imagined menace, or preventing honest work into disease cures. Regardless, legislation exists on the books to prevent 'mad scientists' from creating things that some consider unethical.

So why the talk about banning selling assault rifles? Just because you *can* make assault rifles, doesn't mean you should.

I am in favor of a person's right to self defense.
I am in favor of a person's right to hunt. (with caveats)
I am in favor of the second amendment - especially that part the NRA tends to pretend isn't there:
I am in favor of a well-regulated militia.

I am just not in favor of lone nuts with enough firepower to decimate a few city blocks, and the ability to get it willy-nilly.

According to mainstream media reports (yes, Dave, I threw that in on your behalf), Lanza didn't use assault weapons last week, he used handguns. But the uproar over the last week has been about assault weapons, not handguns. I'm getting rambly here, so let me try to reign it in -

I don't know a single scientist out there who would cook up a mad scheme to clone a bunch of human embryos in unethical ways, but just in case it might happen, people threw up a bunch of laws - with life in prison penalties - for anyone who tries to make them. Where are the laws throwing up penatlies for making something that's actually dangerous, like civilian automatic weapons? I don't know any scientists who will take common laboratory tools (viruses, certain chemicals, certain pathogenic bacteria) and turn them into weapons, but there are laws to prevent it, and hard federal regulations restricting scientists' access to many things that can be considered dangerous. Yet there are so few restrictions on the ability of the general public to gain access to other tools (handguns) that can so much more readily, and without months of labwork, be used as weapons.

Why is my predominantly peacable profession being regulated so much more harshly and restrictively than actual weapons?

Why are tools that can be turned into weapons under stronger government regulation than weapons that can be used as tools?

Answer those questions rationally for me, and then maybe I will start to consider an arguement against tighter restrictions on gun ownership.
I'm feeling : disbelief
06 November 2012 @ 04:43 pm
Wow, So it's been nearly 7 months since I've posted to my list of books read. I've read a lot of books since then.... 21 books. That's going to make this a bit of a long post, except that I am collating all my reviews of Patrick O'Brian books, which feels like half the list. Oye. here we go.

Here"s the listCollapse )

So, that's it for now. More to come in a bit. There's only 1 complete Patrick O'Brian Aubrey-Maturin novel left for me (Blue at the Mizzen), but I've already got a few other novels in progress that I'm reading. So, it's not the end of the list for the year.

No worries,
Current Location: stony brook
Currently listening to: : none
11 September 2012 @ 02:17 pm
Memory is a funny thing. My memory for connecting people's names and faces is beyond abysmal. My memory for performing tasks that are not already a habit is terrible. My memory even for imortant scientific things is shotty at best.

My memory for stories? For books I have read, TV or movies I have watched? Random minutiae of fictional characters I care about and the exact wording of things they have said in a minor scene I saw 25 years ago? Yeah, memory like a steel trap.

So it's incredibly frustrating for me, and a very weird feeling that right now, I have a scene stuck in my head that I can't place. It is a scene that took place in some form of mass media that I consumed in the last few weeks. I know it involves a few people in an old Egyptian style tomb, in the dark, and they find out they're in a trap where the floor is blanketed with snakes, but the snakes are all centuries dead, since the tomb is centuries old. (Why were there so many LIVE snakes in the cavern where the Ark was concealed in Raiders!? WHY?!) One thing that is especially weird about all this is that I don't have a clear mental movie in my mind of the scene in question, just a summary, as if someone had told it to me rather than me watching it.

Here's the rub. I know I consumed this scene is some form of media recently. But I have NO IDEA where! Was it the Terry Pratchett book Im reading now? Don't think so. Was it an episode of Dr. Who? Was is an episode of Phineas and Ferb I watched with Willow? One of the last episodes of Season 6 of Psych?

I find it terribly disturbing I can't place the scene, but at the same time, I find it hysterical that I could genuinely believe it came from any of those 4 sources.

[EDIT: I figured it out, I think. An episode of the Thrilling Adventure Hour Podcast, one of the 'Beyond Belief' segments with Frank and Sadie Doyle. I'm pretty sure that's what it was, which explains my lack of distinct mental picture to go along with the memory.]
Current Location: stony brook
I'm feeling : confusedconfused
Currently listening to: : none
23 June 2012 @ 05:23 pm
I made pancakes again this morning. Usually, when I make pancakes, the girls want theirs in various animal or flower shapes. Today, Holly told me, "Daddy, I want my pancake a raincloud, and it'll go Boom! Boom! rain rain rain."

So, I made a raincloud. It came out pretty good.

A few minutes later, I was still pouring batter to griddle. Holly came in, carrying her empty plate. "Daddy, I ate my raincloud, and now it's raining in my tummy. I want more pancake." So, I gave her a normal pancake and told her it was the moon.

Parenting Win.
19 June 2012 @ 12:21 am
Hey - remember when I wrote this? Remember how I wrote about wanting to write an 80s competition movie screenplay about college a cappella groups? Remember how the whole reason I didn't much care for Glee was that it was almost but not quite what I wanted to do, to the point I didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity (whether I tried to do it or not)?

Yeah. This happened. And it's starring Elizabeth Banks, who is all kinds of awesome. And who probably understands a bit about college a cappella, since she went to Penn and all (and overlapped with me, though I never met her that I know of).

Yeah. grinding my teeth, torn between squeeing fanboy wanting to see it, and hipster disdain and being too cool to even deign to see it.


No worries
Current Location: home
I'm feeling : blerg
Currently listening to: : the wonder pets
18 May 2012 @ 03:16 pm
Well, I broke the cycle with a few actual posts last month, but this time I'm going back to my old habit of just using LJ as my own personal library card. Here's my latest list of books read for this year. I think I'm at 33 total, and it's mid May. I have no concept of how I am doing it this quickly, other than that the dead-tree books I'm reading are by and large very short, and the majority of the books are audio. It's a fun ride. Wheee!

Here"s the listCollapse )

No worries,
Current Location: stonybrook
I'm feeling : happyhappy
Currently listening to: : none