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Archive for September, 2007

Progress Report, in which I am shocked at the sound of my own voice

Rough week on the productivity front.  We celebrated the in-laws’ 50th anniversary (yes, you read that correctly) with a big do, lots of family and friends, and all the attendant preparation, setup, and cleanup that entails.  The wife did an outstanding job with the decorating, as always.  She was so busy we haven’t yet had much time to properly celebrate her birthday, which was yesterday.

Even so, I did manage to bang out some verbiage on the Halloween story.  I didn’t finish it, as I’d hoped, but I should get there with another night’s work (or two).  Here’s where we currently stand:

I had thought to bring this one in at around 5K, but obviously, that’s not happening.  I may be able to trim a bit of it once I finish.

I’m done with the second act, which had been a bit foggy (like that’s news).  That is, it was foggy until I got the idea for something really shocking to occur–shocking to me, anyway.  I ended up writing a scene that really turned my stomach.  It’s not particularly gruesome, but still, it got to me.  I can’t ever remember having that reaction to my own prose before.  Whether it’s any good, of course, remains to be seen.

Those last three chapters of Petra still await their read-through.  The Halloween story’s due at the end of the month; it takes priority.

In other news–I had an interesting experience last Tuesday evening.  Some of you may recall that for my wife’s 40th birthday last year, I wrote and performed a song for her.  It went over well, and I’ve been meaning to get it recorded.  Trouble is, I don’t have the equipment.  So as a present for my 40th birthday, my wife, in-laws, and some friends chipped in to get me an hour of studio time, complete with a sound engineer, at a local recording studio.  I wanted to get it done in time for her birthday this year, which was, as I said, yesterday.  Last Tuesday, I went there to lay the song down.

The recording went well.  It’s a simple enough tune, with only two tracks–guitar and vocal.  I’d rehearsed it enough that I got the guitar in one take (with one little fix) and the vocals in two.  The sound engineer, a guy by the name of Jeremy, was terrific–patient, helpful, enthusiastic.  Exactly what this first-timer needed.

The most interesting moment, though–and the reason I’m posting it here–came near the end of the session, when he played back the track for me.  It was the old cliche all over again:  “Do I really sound like that?”

You would think I would have expected it.  I wasn’t doing a cover of another song, after all.  This was a Matt Rotundo original, from start to finish.  I’m the only one who’s ever sung it.  Even so, when I heard the playback, I could not recognize my own voice. 

Very weird.  Humbling, even.

And you know, there’s a writing lesson in that:  I really don’t know the sound of my own voice, in song or in fiction.  I mean, I know enough to sing on-key, and to do it with at least an outward show of confidence.  But the actual timbre is something I’m just not attuned to yet.

Thank goodness for honest critiques.

Write Club update:  IGMS bounced “In the Hidden Gardens of the Soul” with a tier one rejection.  Response time, 3 months.

Onward . . .

Progress Report, in which my antagonist proves more popular than my protagonist

Continued my read-through of Petra last week, still making copious line edits. Also got the last crit I was waiting on. I expected it to be the harshest, and it did not disappoint. My friend

found the crit more painful than I did, I think. And it was certainly no picnic for me. Nonetheless, I’m always grateful for honest feedback. He hammered the opening (rightly so) and the characterizations, and pointed out some plausibility issues I hadn’t thought of. I’m particularly grateful for this last, as I am really bad at finding plot holes in my own work.

A couple of interesting commonalities from my beta readers: 1) Nobody identified with my protagonist. One reader liked one of the other viewpoint characters, and another really liked someone else, and a third liked none of them. 2) Two readers found themselves sympathizing with the antagonist–at least for a little while. I suppose this means that I succeeded in not making him a stereotypical, mustache-twirling villain. On the other hand–yikes!

Still, I think all of these problems are fixable. Indeed, many of the issues may be addressed by writing a few missing scenes. I think. I hope.

Anyway, I still need to read through the last three chapters, and then get to work on the rewrite itself.

In other news, on Saturday, I decided to give my Halloween story another chance.  And since I like those little progress meter thingies that all the cool LJ kids have, here’s one for me:

Assuming I’m right about the length, I should finish a first draft this week, then do a quick rewrite before month end.  This is my first new fiction since completing Petra, so I feel pretty good about that.

One update for Write Club:  Dark Recesses bounced “Take This, and Eat,” saying they’re “pretty full up on longer stories,” and asking if I had anything in the 3-4k range.  I might, at that.  Response time, about five weeks.

Onward . . .

I am weary

It gets wearying sometimes, holding minority views on politics and religion. I’m not just talking about the babbling idiocy and mendacity on talk radio or the editorial page. That’s certainly a problem, but what’s worse, I think, is when the people around you, family and friends, simply assume you believe what they believe. They might toss off a comment over dinner about the war, fully expecting universal agreement. Or they’ll forward you a proselytizing Christian email, assuming you’re already on board.

But suppose you don’t agree. If you have the temerity to voice dissent at the dinner table–even if you’re polite about it–you’re the one who’s seen as disrupting the peace. You’re the one who’s ruining the pleasant family get-together. You, not the person who just had to foist his oh-so-valuable opinion on everyone, not the person who turned the conversation to such a contentious topic in the first place.

And what about that proselytizing email? Doesn’t anyone out there stop to think it might be just the tiniest bit rude? Are people truly incapable of figuring this out for themselves? You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, neither do you want to engage in the debate, nor disrespect someone’s deeply-held beliefs. You just want them to leave you out of it. Is that too much to ask?

Sometimes, love them as you may, you want to scream in their faces: Mind your own damned business, wouldya?! Didn’t your mother bring you up any better than that?

Other times, you know, it’s just wearying.

I am not like you.