Searching for a new name…

KeplerIt was put to me recently that this site was in need of some rebranding. And I had to admit, she had a point. Storiesbywilliams doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture of all that goes on here does it? It was a fair name back when I first started it, as a humble indie author hoping to showcase his own writing. But this site has evolved since then, so its only fair that the name evolve too.

So then… what to call this site? I’ve been thinking on it for the past day and have been coming up with too many possibilities, and yet none of them seem like a perfect fit. So I thought I’d do something that’s in keeping with the theme of this site and crowdsource it! I have a list of prepared names, but would love some suggestions.

I’m going to something that says science fiction, science and tech, astronomy, current events, fandom, nerdom, geekdom, video games, comic books, movies, literature, history, and the travails of writing. But nothing else! Don’t want to be overstepping my bounds here…

Now Appearing at China Daily Mail!

China_dailymailSome news to share! Your humble yours-truly has been invited by the good folks over at China Daily Mail to join their cast of writers and bloggers. For those not familiar with their work, this is a site dedicated to sharing new about the nation of China that is free from state censorship and monitoring.

It is run by Craig Hill, a longtime educator and world traveller who has worked extensively in Australia and China, addressing issues of corruption, education, reconciliation and social justice. So over the coming weeks and months, don’t be too surprised if you see some additional post reblogged from that sight. That’s just me promoting work I’m doing in some other locale 😉

Thanks for the opportunity Mr. Hill and the good people of CDM! Glad to be aboard!

IT giants admit to being hacked by China

Nominations for 2013!

fireworks1Folks, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been getting real lazy when it comes to blogger awards lately. In fact, about 18 months into this blog’s existence, I think I pretty much made the decision to stop participating in them. But you know what, people didn’t stop nominating me, which created a bit of a backlog of acknowledgments and nominations. People must have thought I was a real snob!

So as an act of contrition, I’ve decided to do a big ol’ thank you to all the people who nominated me so far for 2013. There were quite a few, interestingly enough. One might think I’ve made it onto a few blogrolls in recent months! Or perhaps it’s just the season for it. In any case, I would like to thank the following people for the following nomination on the following dates:

Liebster Blog Award:

notestoponder – Feb. 28th, 2013

Next Big Thing Blog Hop:

Rami Ungar the Writer – Feb. 21st, 2013

One Lovely Blog Award:

Rigzen Chomo – Jan. 3rd, 2013

Reality Award:

Mary-Ann Feb 28th, 2013

Very Inspiring Blog Award:

Tazein Mirza Saad – Feb. 23rd, 2013
Fashion and Style Guru – Feb. 08th, 2013
Ripley Conner – Jan. 03rd, 2013

Thank you to all of you for thinking of me and bestowing these honors! And thanks even more for doing it in such a timely and coordinated manner. With this many awards, there’s no way I could possibly do all of them justice and make my own lists of nominees. There’s be just too many! And I swear I don’t have anything less to tell people about myself. Yes, thank you indeed because this really cuts down on the paperwork 😉

But I promise, I shall do the right thing and properly thank you on a case by case basis in the future. Take care and thanks again!

Of Search Terms and Hits

0427_Cyber_full_600Recently, I went by my traffic page to see just how many hits I was getting in recent days. Naturally, I was sure to take a gander at the referrals and search term portions of this page, just to see who was looking for what and who else might have led them to me in the first place. Needless to say, it was interesting, and pretty consistent with what I’ve been seeing in the last few months.

Ah, but then, I decided to look at the All-Time totals to see just how much of my traffic I owed to certain subjects. You can tell much about your own page and the impact it’s having by seeing what search term more than any other led people to you. And after looking over the grand totals, I thought I might list the top 15 and see what I could conclude from it.

So, here are the top 15 search terms which have led people to my site since it went online in March of 2011:

  1. Joker:  10,060
  2. The Joker:  4,813
  3. Bath Salts Zombie:  2,267
  4. Bath Salt Zombie:  1,585
  5. Predator:  1,010
  6. Moon:  918
  7. COD (Call of Duty):  887
  8. Bayonet:  820
  9. Tiananmen Square:  607
  10. Firefly Serenity:  607
  11. Firefly:  535
  12. Zombie Apocalypse:  511
  13. Zombie Weapons:  495
  14. Desert Eagle .50 cal:  442
  15. Futuristic Guns:  412

What to conclude from all of this? I’m not sure I want to think about it much. If I did, I might have to admit that maybe my site mainly appeals to gamers, gun enthusiasts and people who like reading about insane clowns, zombies and recreational cannibalism. Not exactly the reason I started writing this thing in the first place!

But then again, I could just as easily conclude that, like me, these people enjoy a good romp through nerd territory, complete with dystopian fiction, post-apocalypticism, cool weapons, cool games and cool franchises. And maybe, just maybe, they enjoy learning about history and engaging in some thoughtful discussion along the way.

Hey, a man can always dream, right? 😉

200,000 Hits!

inspirationWell, well… another milestone has come, and it seems I missed it by about 48 hours! And that was after over a week of waiting for it to come. I am referring not only to reaching over 200,000 views, but also to the fact this blog is reaching the end of its second year. Just two months to go, and storiesbywilliams will be two! Ah well, I’m here now, and there are a few things I want to say to mark this occasion. Well, for starters, I would like to say thank you once again to all the people who have come by and made this milestone happen.

And then there’s the people who come by more than once, and on purpose. Those people deserves a thank you too! And third, there are the people who’ve come by, stuck around, and even offered supportive comments. Those people deserve an extra special thank you! Were it not of the enduring and consistent support of you fine folks – and you know who you are! – this blog would have flopped and gone under a long time ago.

fireworks2Yes, I know it seems like I’ve said this many times over now, but that’s the thing about marking milestones. They tend to kind of build up after the first few. First there’s your first 100 views, then 500, then 1000. After that, the milestones become fewer and farther between. But until you get into six or seven figures, they are likely to happen quite often. But I want to space things out a bit more, so I promise not to say anything until I reach 500,000 views.

Zombie_Apocalypse_by_geodexSo lets see, what’s next for this site? Well, I just published Data Miners, that was good, especially after three years of being in development. Pappa Zulu is also nearing completion, which will be nice because I plan to take that opportunity to go back, edit Whiskey Delta, and then release it! I foresee a zombie-fighting trilogy emerging, so stay tuned for more on that (still need a name for the third one though).

And of course, there’s Yuva, which needs to get finished and go through a full-on edit. And somewhere in between all that, I plan to restart my old idea, Apocrypha, my first real attempt at speculative sci-fi that wasn’t set in the distant future. Man, these next few months are going to be busy!

apoc_soldiersAnd I hope you all stick around to see what happens. And of course, I promise to remain a committed follower and viewer of what you have to say and will consider myself flattered that you choose to involve me in your adventures, stories and creative processes. After all, sharing makes for a more richer life experience, if for no other reason than because it lets us know we’re not alone.

This is what we do, people, and this is why we do it!

2012 In Review!

fireworks1The end of the year, in review, as provided by the nice folks at WordPress.com! I have to say, 2012 was pretty good to this little blog o’ mine! In addition to me getting the bulk of my current followers, I also received the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of my views in this one year. Consider… of the a grand total of 186,878 hits, over 180,000 took place between Jan. 1st 2012 and today.

Not only that, but of the 769 posts I’ve made since the sight went up, 670 were put up in this last year. Wow… I do love to go on, apparently. To top all that off, 2012 was the year that I published my highest articles of all time. The first was “A Tribute to the Joker” (which remains my top grosser) which currently holds the top spot at 27,974 views. Second place went to “Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse” with 25,697, and rounding up third was “Zombie Guns or How to Prepare for World War Z” at 6,049. Fourth place went to “Dystopian Science Fiction” which earned 4,775 views and is the only article on this site to have been “Freshly Pressed”.

Yeah, its good to see all this stuff in review. It helps you take stock. It also lets you know what you’re doing right and what people seem to like the most. Judging from these hit counters though, I’d say people like sociopathic clowns, zombies, and guns way more than they do classic literature. Hmm… Should I be worried?

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 180,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

700th Post!

fireworks1Yes, I know its a bit of an odd number. But I was still pleased and kind of blown away to find out that I was nearing this landmark recently. And I thought, what better excuse for a little retrospective and a chance to say thanks for the support? My my, where to begin? Well, how about the beginning? Since just the other day I was looking back at the first posts I’d made with this site, I think I’ll start there. Seems as good a place as any…

The very first thing I ever wrote on this site was a simple Hello World message. Nothing too flamboyant or special about that one, just the obligatory “how do you do?” It was my second post where I said the things that I wanted to say and really took the time to state what my mission was:

sci_fi“I love science fiction, always have, always will.  But it’s the kind of science fiction that I love which I think is an important distinction. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that sci-fi comes in two varieties: classic and commercial.  The classical kind is the traditional variety that people take seriously… Commercial sci-fi, by contrast, is your basic stuff that owes much to the original masters but really didn’t follow in their footsteps.”

That’s still true of me. I still subscribe to the idea that the real science fiction is the kind that really makes you think and chooses to appeal to the highest possible standard. Might sound elitist, but given the sheer amount of pulp out there that does little more than entertain, I’d say I’m more of a hopeful optimist. I think people are capable of great genius when you give them a chance, and would like nothing better than to create something myself that appeals to the best in us – be it intellectual, moral, or metaphysical.

My first few reviews were really quite simple. I spoke of Frank Herbert – arguably my biggest inspiration – William Gibson, 1984 and Brave New World. I spoke of my own writing and posted some podcasts of Source’s earliest chapters (no longer available), and pasted some reviews my work had received. However, I was nowhere near as prolific as I am today. It was actually quite surprising to see that the first year of my site being operational could be summed up in just over a dozen posts. Especially when I am now at 700 and just over two and a half years into it!

In any case, I began doing movie reviews shortly thereafter, tackling such sci-fi greats as Blade Runner and the Alien franchise, and such guilty pleasures like Independence Day and Starship Troopers. This went on for some time, with me going back and forth between reviewing movies and great books, and once in a while dropping something in about a favorite miniseries, TV show, or something I happened to find inspiring.

brazil53And then something happened. Something which, I gotta admit, I didn’t even know was possible until it happened to me. I got freshly pressed. At the time, I was minding my own business, doing a post about Dystopian Literature, in honor of the fact that I just joined Writer’s Worth and our first project was an anthology of original, dystopian narratives. Feeling inspired by the fact that I was getting a chance to write within my favorite genre, I compiled a list of the most historically relevant and renowned examples I could think of.

That opened the floodgates! Having never exceeded a few dozen views in one day, you can imagine my surprised when I came home for lunch that day and discovered my views numbered in the high hundreds! I checked back as the afternoon progressed, only to see that it had reached into the thousands. By afternoon the following day, the torrent stopped and I was able to take stock of all that had happened. Roughly half my subscribership began following me in that one twenty-four hour period. I got more comments than I knew what to do with and more likes in that one day than the previous year! It felt nice, and I certainly learned something about how this thing called WordPress works!

Since that time, I won’t lie, I’ve been hoping to snag a second FP! No luck yet, but what can you do? Once was nice enough, and since it’s led to my current circulation amongst my fellow bloggers and the general internet-surfing public, I really can’t complain! Besides, several milestones have happened since then, so I shall not linger on this one event. Suffice it to say, as the days and weeks continued to pass, I found my traffic had increased exponentially from my pre-FP days. Not to the point of thousands, but higher than a hundred. That too was nice…

After finishing up the series of Dystopian posts, mainly to address examples other people poitned out and to cover examples of dystopic movies, I began to move onto other ideas. For instance, I had decided it was time to tackle themed-posts, like Cool Guns, Cool Ships, Giant Robots, and the like. These were mighty fun to do and provided endless suggestions from people who knew and liked the same franchises I did, and also saw these lists as an opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

apocalypse-04I also got into serial novel work, as attested to by Crashlands over at Story Time, and posts dealing with futuristic concepts and news. I guess I’d grown a bit tired just talking concepts, books and movies at this point and really wanted to delve into the everday stuff that drives science fiction and the creative imagination that guides people’s writing. At the same time, I continued to pimp any and all work that I was doing with Writer’s Worth, which at this point had morphed into its current group name of Grim5Next, in honor of our first project!

Then came two significant developments, back to back. In June of 2012, I began working with a select group of members from Grim5Next on a new project idea. With the passing of Ray Bradbury and Venus’ transit in front of the sun, it seemed that some of us were bit by the inspiration bug. I can still remember how it all began, in the form of a conversation between my friend and fellow writer, Khaalidah, and myself:

Khaalidah: Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question “Would you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?” Hands down the answer was space.
I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go.
This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things

Me: Okay, you need to write this down. I foresee you doing a story where a family does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Khaalidah: An anthology about space, going to space or anything related sounds awesome. I vote for you to be the editor. What do we need to do to get started?”

Yuva_coverThat was the beginning of Yuva. In the days that followed, we two enlisted the help of many people: Goran, Jenna, William, and Melanie. Through much conversation, back and forth and debate, we determined the location of our story (Gliese 581g), the tone, the structure, and even began producing the first few installments. As time progressed, we were joined by more writers – Charles, Danielle and Cara – who wanted to contribute and began scooping up the later installments in the series.

The second development was the rash of face-eating and zombie-like behavior which seemed to break out throughout that summer. Feeling compelled to comment on the sort of hysteria which had set in, I wrote a post called “Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse”. Much like my post on Dystopia, that one earned me quite a few views, thought it was not Freshly Pressed. I am thankful it wasn’t, as I began to feel a bit iffy about getting lots of traffic over a series of rather sick and tragic events. But I knew I had to comment since it was a relevant issue and I had something to say about it. I also swore I’d never publicize the names of the psychos responsible ever again, since I didn’t want to contribute to the buzz that so often surrounds twisted criminals.

Since that times, its been more of the same. Every day, I do my best to maintain the pace I’ve now set for myself, and am happy when plenty of people come by to see what I’ve written and tell me they are thankful that I post what I do. Naturally, I often complain that I should be getting paid to do this, but that’s just talk. No, this is something I’d gladly do for free, though ideally I would love it if it was a source of income so I could write indefinitely and not have to worry about money. My hope is one day that all of this culminates and I can write something truly meaninful and influential. That way, this site will represent a beginning to something truly big, and I’ll be able to share that with everyone who’s been here from the beginning.

Okay, that got a little mushy there towards the end. Suffice it to say, I’m very thankful for all that I’ve been able to do with this site thus far, and for being able to connect with all the people that I have. I hope very much to be able to write as many or more posts before I use up my allotted memory and either have to pay for an upgrade or move to another web address. Hopefully, the whole “getting paid to do this” thing will work itself out before then so I have the option of throwing money at the problem 😉

Rest assured, I aint going nowhere anytime soon. So expect to see plenty of me around these parts. Peace out, and thanks to everyone for stopping by, then and now. Bless you all!

fireworks

150,000 Views! Thank You!

Just a quick post to say, my site has just reached 150,000 views today! Yaaaaaay! These milestones do get less exciting, the more there are, but it’s likely to be awhile before I reach 200,000. I figure, now’s as good a time and milestone to celebrate as any. And I could use some picking up, considering the week I’ve had!

For one, I got sick this week, which is sucky enough. However, that was coupled with the worst day of work I’ve ever had. It started got called in to fill in for an EA in my school’s kindergarten room the night before. I thought I might be well enough to work, but found that after a night of restless tossing and turning, I was exhausted and had a wicked headache!

But wouldn’t you know it, no one was available, so I decided to suck it up. And of course, the children chose that day to be especially rambunctious! I tell ya, sugar is like crack to kids, a terrible epidemic! And I don’t want to go into details, but suffice it to say, helping kids with special needs can be quite demanding, especially when they’re little guys! And today,s till sick and headachy, I’m trying to get better so the wife and I can go help her brother move tomorrow. I love moving…

So in the midst of the blahs, it’s nice to be reminded of something positive. I got nothing in the world to complain about, and hope people everywhere are having as stress-free a week as they possibly can! I also promise to be getting back on my writing and editing duties, so those who are waiting on notes from me, trust that they will be coming shortly. Thank you all for making this site an enduring possibility, and good night!

Nominated for a Beautiful Blogger Award!

Wouldn’t you know it? There’s yet another blogger award making the rounds, and I’ve picked up a nomination. And it comes from a new follower to this page, one who is equally if not more prolific than I am. So my thanks to Maarit-Johanna of Literature and Culture for the nod. May you musings on literature, the arts, travel and culture continue to inspire!

So… as always there are rules to this award. Four to be specific:

1. First up, thank the person who nominated you:
That’d be you, Mrs. Maarit-Johanna. Thanks a bunch!

2. Post the award image to your page:
Did that!

3. Tell seven facts about yourself:
-I love the smell of fresh air! City living is fine, but there better be plenty of green spaces to provide that scent of dense foliage and clean air

-I love cats and dogs. I grew up with the plenty of the former, but my wife’s love of the latter rubbed off on me. Now we need to get a big enough place to accommodate a few of each.

-I love to cook, bust suspect I might have only a few moves: Pasta, stir fry, stew and barbeque. But enough variations on these basic areas make it seem like I got lots of moves!

-I have a notorious passion for beer! I hope to one day be able to brew my own, and not from some sissy homebrew operation. I’m talking my own barley roasting, my own mash tun, and my own hops grown right out the back.

-Four books have inspired me more than any others: 1984; Guns, Germs and Steel; The God That Failed; and Dune. I’ve read plenty of good books, and quite a few great ones. But these ones stand alone as the one’s that blew my mind!

-My favorite colors appear to be green and black. Of all my clothes, the vast majority are one or the other.

-I’ve studied Taekwon-Do for a good twenty-four years and can’t really imagine life without it. I’ve gone for short periods without any training, and honestly felt like I something major was missing.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers:

Rendezvous Heath

MythRider

Mark Sackler

Michelle Proulx

Vinny Lanni

Tazein Mirza Saad

Shafiqah

Casey Sheridan

Erin Brady Pike

Czech the Flip

Gigable

Liz

Vee Villarreal

Vandhana

Carolyn

Thanks again, and congrats to all those nominated by meeeee! 😉

125,000 Hits! Thank You All!

fireworks1Okay, it seems I have a few things to be thankful for this week. Well for starters, there’s my health. You always have to be thankful when that’s in your favor. Second, there’s the positive feedback I’ve been getting for my serial novel Whiskey Delta, which is just a few chapters shy of completion. Third, there is the nomination for the Beautiful Blogger Award (thank you Maarit-Johanna!)

And last, but not least, there’s the fact that I passed the 125,000 hit mark this evening. As far as milestone go, its a bit arbitrary, not like 100,000 or anything. But I still feel like some celebration is in order and some thanks are due. So as usual, thanks a million to those of you who have tuned in to my site on one or more occasions, and a special, hearty thank you to those who make it a regular scheduled stop on their daily jaunts through the ether of cyberspace!

One of these days, I hope to be able to afford a getaway where I can host gathering of this nature, but in person! They always say that the internet is excelling at bringing people together and fostering communities, but I still look forward to the day when I can actually meet some of the people I talk to regularly on this thing. But until then, I guess this interface will have to suffice, and for my part, I hope to be able to continue to provide entertainment. Thanks again and keep on trucking! And of course, there’s more to follow, so stay tuned…

Oh, and it seems I also passed another milestone. This is my 601st post, which makes Whiskey Delta – Chapter 36 the 600th. How about that? 😉