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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

When did I become German?

Why am I ending my sentences with verbs? I don't know why this is? Now, I must go.

This is the way the (story) ends... with a Bang!

On Sunday I figured out the ending. It's in my head, paper is for wimps! Bwa-ha-ha.

The basic story arc is, main character is defending, keeps losing, things go from bad to worse, cycle repeats, character is captured, character gets his revenge. I wasn't going to say how, but I should. I've been struggling with what the story is (they come in pieces). The main character's motivation is to defend his planet (it's a Space Pirates story). The pirates come for the gems the colony has been digging up (Nanite Quality Diamonds the size of boulders, just lying around, come prospect on our planet!). So how can the character win? Suicide car-bomb. That'll be the twist. Ha!

Trust me, it'll make sense in the story.

Work, work, work

Yesterday was a 12 hour day at work. Sunday was an early morning woodworking class, and then errands afterward. So, for a Sunday, it was a long day. I'm back to dragging my butt.

Blessed St. Caffeine, send us your balm and heal our contemptuous souls.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Batteries drained.

Time for bed. 3200 words. I'm past the crushing defeat part.

Procrastination

Attempting to get the rough draft of the Pirate Story out, and I'm procrastinating. Word count is around 2700. I'm at the point I don't like, where I have to destroy and kill, and not in a "stand up and fight" kind of way, but in a "you have no chance of escape" way. So, here I am, avoiding it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Recharged

BTW, after attending Confusion, and the writers group on Sunday, the ideas are flowing. I have to rewrite "Changelings" (and change the title, I seem to be bad with titles). I want to get the Pirate Story out first. The muse, though, has other plans it appears. I'm getting lines for "War Stories" and "Changelings." Ah, well.

Friday Night Confusion

Confusion certainly lived up to its name. First was working through Detroit following I-75. Then there was the program. Just keep in mind when you may go to a Con that the people running it are volunteering their time. I'm very understanding about these things being a graphic designer myself. If my job was easy they could get any monkey to do it.

When I was checking into the hotel (which had free parking, yea!) I noticed John Scalzi hanging around. I almost went up to introduce myself right then, but I was tired and wanted to wash my face and brush my teeth. So, I dropped my stuff off in the room, refreshed, and went down to see what was happening. John had moved. I picked up my registration and then started walking down the hallways.

A slight digression here, people are cons are very friendly. Be prepared to have casual conversations at any time with almost anybody. On the way to my room I talked with a young girl who was doing gopher work. Where I live people wave to each other. You may not know who it is, but we wave. If you don't wave back we know you're a stranger. Just a hint.

I'm walking down the main hallway to check out the space, get the layout of the place. Then I figure I'll hit the con-suite and maybe grab a bite to eat and go to the interview with Elizabeth Moon, who was Guest of Honor (and a very neat person to boot).

John Scalzi was holding court in the hallway. I stopped outside the circle and waited for an opening to say hi. After a minute John changed the conversation to his blog and pointed to me as one of his commentors. I introduced myself to everybody in the circle which included all these cool people, like Karl Schroeder and Jeff Beeler (there were a whole bunch of others in there as well, I'm just really bad with names, I'm sorry, you were all fun to be with). Whoops, thought I was dipping my toes in the pool testing the waters and I find myself over my head in the deep-end.

I start doggy-paddling, looking for an exit. I didn't want to impose and become one of those pesky people that never go away. But I never found one. I kept talking and listening, and making jokes, being part of jokes, etc. Tobias Buckell showed up with his wife. Then Jim Hines and Catherine Schafer come in and introduce themselves to me. To me. Pop my head with a pin 'cause it's going to explode.

I'm still looking to make a graceful exit, not to over stay. And then we all go to the bar and have a drink and some food. Excellent conversation, fabulous people and I can't frickin' believe I'm still there.

And just when I don't think it can get any better, David Kletcha comes by with his son and I finally get to meet him. Okay, and are you ready for it, Jim Frenkel, senior editor with Tor (that makes two I've met in person, collect them all!), sits down to munch and chat. Oh, Holy Night, the stars are brightly... And what a talker. He was funny, he was personable. Jim made you feel like he was talking just to you when he's telling the whole table the story. Very cool talent, that.

That’s where I was all Friday night until about 1:30am when it was just Tobias, David, and me. I only left because I was dead tired. I hit the pillows and was gone (except for turning over, ever since I broke my leg, I always wake up for that) until late morning.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink

I was hoping to post about the con, but I'm so tired I really need to concentrate at work to do the simplest tasks. Sorry. I hope to write up something tonight.

On a side note, I was hoping to get "Changelings" edited and out, having had it critiqued on Sunday (lots of good comments). But the group meets again on Feb 11, so I need to get through the Pirate Story first.

Weird Tales

Since one of my stories is currently in the slush pile (oh, I hope and pray it's beyond that, but I'm being realistic) it's somewhat concerning to hear that the editors you've met in person have moved to different slots. A full run down is here at oldcharliebrown's Journal. I hope this was amicable to all concerned. But since they're searching for a new editor, I have a feeling that submission times are going to drag for a bit as everybody gets used to their new roles.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Here we are, now entertain us

(typos corrected 1-22-07, sorry about that, was very tired) So here I am at Confusion. So far things are going well. Spent last night sitting in with a group of writers and editors discussing almost everything that came to mind. This is the best part about Cons for me, knowing that the people you respect as writers are also nice people in person. And they're knowledgable about many things, including writing and publishing. So I played fly-on-the-wall, sometimes throwing something into the conversation, and just soaking up the atmosphere.

I learned of another old book I need to read that fits with an idea about FTL travel I wanted to use. This is what talking with people who are well read in the genre helps with. Plus it's always fun to hear about their lives and how they get to where they're at. And cracking jokes about Canadians and the US. That just never gets old.

So I vary between fan and nubile writer. That works very well because you'll find most writers of SF/F are also fans. The programming is light, except for late afternoon where they have four things I want to attend, all in the same hour (and I ended up going to none of them). I also bought two t-shirts, one Cthulhu (Cephelopod) and one Tao/Pirate. I'll post the link to the store's website later. Lots of books I could buy. This is where remembering the BOXES of guilt stack I have comes in handy.

I'm rambling so I'll stop now. Only had about 5 hours of sleep, I need to work on that. I have a new story to critique for the writing group on Sunday, I need to find time for that. Driving time was a little over four hours, so I need to leave early tomorrow.

Getting hungry, need to hunt down some food.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What I Forgot

A red pen; for edits and critique (including my own stuff).

What it means to be a writer question #56, Speed.

Lately there's been lots of writing talk on the various blogs. This weekend's angst filled blathering is writing speed.

John Scalzi's (see ya at Confusion, John) Whatever is a good place to start. Tobias (you too, I owe you a drink) has also picked up on it.

Next weeks blathering, I predict, will be about using "said" only or with the occasional adverb in dialog attribution.

Confusion or Bust!

It's Friday. Work is pugnacious. At first we have impossible deadlines (the impossible while you wait, miracles require 24 hour notice), but then I had a half hour of no work and I could eat my lunch like a human instead of shoveling it in between mouse clicks. After eight hours, though, color me gone.

After work it's off to Detroit. There's a snow advisory, and it's the coldest it's been all year. Yippie! I have a new cell phone (no, you don't get the number, Bette and I will be sharing it) and my laptop. I've got pop, water, and snacks. The clothes are in the car. The book I hope to get signed (and one other) are in there as well, chillin' out. And now I have the feeling I've forgotten something.

I owe people drinks. I'm looking forward to meeting many people I've only talked to online. I'm nervous. I'm starting every sentence with "I."

Sunday I get to lickety split back to NE Ohio for my writing group.

Oh, it's going to be a fun weekend. I hope to post while I'm there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why (Annie Lennox)

Okay. I'm reading the Year's Best Fanatsy and Horror 2006 (Datlow, Link, Grant). There are a couple of stories that are outstanding (Jeff Ford's Boatman's Holiday) and a few stories I just couldn't care about (skip those after a few paragraphs). Last night was a story that had me asking, "How the heck did this get printed, let alone selected for the Year's Best?" Here's another example of, "I can do better than that. I am doing better than that." POV slipped, there were three places that were unbelievable (as in, that wouldn't work at all, not just a fantastical element) and kicked me out of the story, and there was a huge info dump in the middle. I almost stopped reading (actually I did and then went back). I had to know just what somebody thought was good. I never did find it.

So, end analysis, hope for me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Am I becoming that guy?

I've mentioned Tobias Buckell's "Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro" before. I highly recommend it (the link goes to the composite MP3, they also offer it in sections). So, I'm listening to it again, trying to light the fire under my rump. I'm also trying to get into the mood for the convention coming up.

In the first part Tobias talks about a certain person in stasis and not being able to move forward. This person has some success and then goes off- track. It hit me then, "Geez, I'm starting to be just like that guy he describes," and not in a good way.

So here is my New Year's resolution (a little late, but what the heck), "pontificate less, ask more, write more, fail better when I can't succeed, get published and get better."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oooo, Bright and Shiny! Ahhh.

I'm scatterbrained today. Last week, which only had three working-days (New Year's Eve and New Years Day were Monday and Tuesday), saw 16 hours overtime (Saturday was 8 hours). This week I'm running at about 8 hours OT heading into Friday. I had two Council Meetings this week, was threatened with lawsuits twice (but it was the same person, not sure I can count it as two), and I'm still getting over this creeping crud. Plus finished rewrites last Sunday. So I'm exhausted.

These are good times for writers, not exactly the best for writing. It's in these states that unusual connections will be made naturally, when words have their highest degree of pliability. Truth tends to come out without any coloration. This is a time of note taking. I'm getting my groove back. Need to get back to that book.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Story Bone

"Do you ever feel like the universe is looking in the opposite direction?"

Just One of Those Things

Dagburnit. NPR just played Suite 1 in G Major for Cello performed by Yo-Yo Ma as one of their cut songs. Now I have to go find it on the iPod and play the whole piece or it's going to drive me crazy. Good music is like that.

Monday, January 8, 2007

In Submission

See, they're over there. There. Right there in the right hand column. Two of them are out. Out, damn spots. Out!

I stood in line at the post office for 45 minutes (hand to Tao) to get them out. Left work early (only a half hour of overtime today) to get it done.

Oh, and I made a last minute change to Running of the Deer. There was something that just kept bothering me. I had to change it. It was no longer important to the story line and would make an editor say, "Why would this character do that? It makes no sense." You always have to remove those. And, no, I didn't have to read it again. I new exactly where it was, and what the text was. And I knew I could delete it without a problem. Yeah, I've read it that many times.

Now I need to try and get the Pirate Story done. The writer's group meets in two weeks, that leaves me this week (they like a week to review a manuscript). I don't think I'm going to make it. I'm still going to try and get it done before the submission deadline next month.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Percival?

Running of the Deer is done. Done I tell you. I'm not reading the damn thing again. It's more than a stinking fish, it's the year old lasagna in the refrigerator that's been petitioning for a pension. I'll print it out tomorrow and send it off to Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. They don’t pay well, but it's good exposure if I get in. As an FYI, it took 250 words to work out the bridge, but I think it keeps the excitement going a little longer, and makes the denouement faster. So it went from 5000 words to 5300.

I've printed out War Stories. It'll be going to Weird Tales this week. WT seems to have moved, again. And I think they've changed their payment from, "on publish date" to 30 days after. Ah, well. They've given me good advice and encouragement. So they get a shot at the latest.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Designer Rant (Part 2)

And (mostly) because you couldn't do your job, I'm here at work on Saturday to finish mine. Fortunately I get paid overtime, your client will be footing part of that bill.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Designer Rant

If you do artwork on a computer, and don't know what a Tab Stop is or how to set them, you are not a designer. If you use two different text boxes to line up important data (which can change) with different left and right hand justification, you are (removed colloquial term for fornication) brain dead. I've just spent five hours completing what should have been a half hour job because the (removed blasphemous statement) designer had their collected heads up their (removed colloquial reference to body orifices). You just cost your client BIG money. And when they ask, I'm telling them why.

This isn't even touching the issues of down sampling photos. If you have a 300dpi 8"x8" image, and the largest you use it in the layout is 2"x2", and you don't create a second image down sampled to that size, given that each page (of a 48 page catalog) has 5 of those types of images, WARNING, there is more vacuum in your cranium than nerve tissue.

If you set type as Helv 9/1 with a .111" Paragraph spacing to get the leading right, or don't know how to read that line, or use Baseline Shifting to adjust leading for whole paragraphs, please go back to the fry station. The machine now beeps when the fries are done, simple. And, no, I don't want to super-size that.

AND If you don't know what style sheets are, or how to use them properly GET A (explicative deleted) DIFFERENT JOB because you aren't a designer. I don't give a (removed bodily function colorful noun) how pretty the pictures you make are, how hip you think you are, you don't know (removed common nickname for Richard) about your job or how it is performed today. Get out. Try ditch digging.

We no longer use watercolors for layout, you're job skills are NON EXISTANT if you don't know what I am talking about. India needs more call center people. They give you a script.

We now return you to your normally scheduled internet (insert Girl from Ipanema music here).

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Workin' in a Coal Mine

Vacation is over tomorrow morning. I'm still coughing up a lung. Well, the good news is that we almost have our new trucks (note to people in the NE, my praying for warm weather is almost at an end; you're all on your own after we get those trucks). The bad news is that I'm Chairman of Streets, Lands and Buildings again. And I have another reason to run for office this year. Sigh.

Well, I'm almost done with "Running of the Deer" (aka "Wild Hunt"). I need to rewrite how that character gets out of Fairy. The only comment I had on that part was, "this is where the suspense died." Enough people said the same thing, so I ought to fix that. So, another couple hundred words (probably more like 150) and it'll be ready.

The goal is, this week I'll have "Running" and "War Stories" out in submission. Don't hold me to that. I've successfully procrastinated most of this night away. I'm playing to my strength.