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Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Work, werk, wurx

Well, I have something to top the Colorectal Surgery Group, the [family/donor name] Urological Institute. That's one school I don't want a degree from, know what I'm saying? Although, in my head, I'm reshooting the DeVry Institute and ITT commercials for the UI.

And now, at work, everybody is concerned over the time I spend at work. It's one of those things that let's you know "something has been said about you somewhere else." (insert ominous music here).

Story Bones

I've been reading a lot of space opera type SF lately and a lot of John Scalzi in particular. So in my mind I've been thinking about planets and alien species as an analogy to nation states in the early mercantile colonization phase of Europe. I've also been playing with concepts of corporate nation-states (an old meme that I think needs refreshed) and how colonies and alien races would relate to each other (to this I owe a big debt to John Scalzi). Would we have an space equivalent to the UN?

But here is the bone. One of the lesser known diplomatic functions the US has is the American University system (provides education to both US and foreign nationals, has high standards for education, and places their campuses in other countries to help educate those countries about the US, our desires, hopes, goals, and thought processes). If we would, say, discover intelligent aliens in space, and develop some form of FTL, would one of our initiatives be an Earth University? What would being a student there be like, how would the function as a "cultural ambassador," and would their graduates be considered like the graduates of AU or would it be more like a community college degree for those alien races?

Postage Rates! Smack!

Last night I'm getting the Robert's Thunder manuscript ready for the Writers of the Future contest. I've got my postcard (with it's jokes), the manuscript prepared properly (cover page, manuscript without name, etc, always read the submission guidelines), the labels for the right addresses, the SASE... The SASE which won't come back to me until around the end of June (with an acceptance letter this time, please). After the postage rates go up. So my stamps won't be enough. Argh!

Dang burn it. When I started this thing I would send my manuscripts out with a full-sized return envelope. After four of those I had the postal people trained (Yes, this envelope doesn't have anything in it right now, but it will when it comes back...). And then I said, why am I paying all this postage when I can also have one envelope that needs metered and I'm good. I can seal up the whole thing the night before. No muss.

Now I need to buy $.02 stamps, if they're even available yet and do the whole rigamarole again. Bastages.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Busier than a one-legged man...

I just replated the letterhead for the Colorectal Surgery Group. Jokes ensue.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Night again

Well, the commute home today was during actual daylight hours. The buzzards have returned. I saw them on the way home (although Hinckley is on the opposite side of Cleveland). At least 50 of them at various times. The largest congregation was about ten individuals, trying to find a thermal about 30 feet from the ground.

Today would have been a good day for thermals, the air current not the underwear. It was in the 70s.

So we have the windows open this evening, and the Spring Peepers are chirping merrily away. We have a lot of water and a lot of trees, things they like. There are places on the drive home that even with the windows closed they will drown out a radio on low volume (like listening to NPR).

These were probably the frogs I was hitting all last week on the commute home. Frogs on a dark rural highway at night appear as white lumps. Most just sit there, strangely enough right in the wheel tracks on the black asphault, I think because of the friction it is warmer there. But then some jump madly, more up than across. Little white blobs jumping up and down as you're bearing down on them at 60mph. Heart wrenching little crunches. There's only so much swerving you can do.

One of those nights

Since I said I would talk about the bits of becoming a writer, I need to talk about this. Last night was one of those crisis moments. I was dead tired. I missed my writers group meeting (and I had a story we were going to critique). And there were two rejection letters this weekend. The gremlins started jeering.

Normally I'm pretty good at ignoring them, but I had given them some good ammo. Why did I think I could be a writer? What the heck am I doing? I'm not dedicated enough or I would have gone to the meeting, flu be damned. I could make more money focusing on the day job. I could have a more satisfactory day job. I could devote more time to the village, to my wife, the my house, to the cat. Just what did I think I was doing except wasting time, energy, and money trying to be a writer?

So I didn't get much sleep, and I still hurt. Damn gremlins. They're quiet now, but I know they're still there. I'll be okay. I'll keep writing. I know I can do this.

On the drive in to work I was thinking about a class mate I had for a fiction writing course. He just didn't get it. His prose was horrible and at best plagerized (yes, and I had to call him on it during critique). And I was wondering if I was acting the same way he did, performing the same function he did in that class, but now I was doing that on a wider stage. Damn gremlins.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Motivation - Springtime

Well, the batteries are low. I think I'm coming down with a flu. And it's spring, the season of mud. Most people forget that part. The robins have returned from the deep woods. I've been seeing them all this past week. They aren't the true harbingers of spring, though. Red-winged black birds are. And I think I heard one the other day.

The sap is flowing, another sign of Spring. For those people who don't know, maple syrup comes from trees, not molasses. I don't think this year is going to be a good one. The freeze was late, and not very long (only about a month and a half). The warm up weather has been wonky. For good maple syrup you need days above freezing and nights below freezing. You need about a months worth of them, while you're capturing the sap. I think we had a weeks worth. The weather just hasn't cooperated and I don't think the sap is sugary enough (about 40-60 gallons of sap will make a gallon of syrup). Well, we will find out soon. Chardon will have it's Maple Festival soon.

However, this is the time I get reminded about my first goal in professional writing. It's not to get published by paying markets (well, there is that goal). The first goal is to have earned enough to buy a new motorcycle. Yes, I ride bikes. It's something you either like or you don't, I happen to like it. The bike currently in the garage won't zoom zoom. It needs more help than I can (or want to) give it. A good new bike starts at around $5,500. And this is the time of year people bring out their bikes and invoke intense yearnings in those of us who can't be out there with them. It's not a coveting kind of thing, I don't want that person's bike. I want my own. This year has been bad for me. People were riding in December, and I've seen them on the roads since the beginning of March. Torture, just plain torture to see another person riding when you're stuck in a car.

Jinxed Redux

Good news and bad news. Just got an email for the Slush God passing on the pirate story. He felt it was too long for the market (which at 6500 words and Shimmer's top end at 5000 is understandable). He didn't think it was good enough to over come the length. Fair cop. And the rejection was personalized and explicit about the story, so I feel good about that. On the good news side, I now know where to send Running of the Deer.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jinxed it

Just got the rejection letter from LCRW. Guess what day it was mailed?

Ah, well. I'll check it over and figure out where to send it next. I want it in the mail before April 1.

Hope you're having fun this weekend. Mine was interrupted by a phone call at 9:30am for Village Business. Sigh, can't a guy sleep for 12 hours around here?

Friday, March 23, 2007

You load sixteen tons, and whadda get?

To give you a measure of just how much work has gone insane, so far this week I have 17 hours of OT. With the work I have on my desk, I expect to break a record at my current job and go over 20 hours this week (my personal all time best on OT is 55 hours, I never want to go back to those hours again).

On top of that, I've been following the discussions on SFWA President elections over on Scalzi's blog (link on righthand side), and the link to the SFF.net boards. If you have a vote, please vote for John for President and the write-in candidate for VP.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Left hand, meet right hand

I'm not usually political here, but I have to post this on this site.

Someone needs to explain to the President that since they haven't done anything criminal, and have nothing to hide, they shouldn't be worried about having to testify under oath, with a transcript, and in front of cameras. Just like they've told all of us with the various eavesdropping revelations, right?

(edited per LBB 03-22-07 3:04pm) Own Petard = hoist

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Submit In-tion

Well, this will jinx it all.

The Pirate Story is still at Shimmer, and the Slush God is very prompt, so I'll take that as a good sign. The other two stories have been at their markets since January, one magazine had an editorial shuffling, which I was worried about and now feel very good about. I'm not kissing butt here. Ann VanderMeer is an excellent editor and I think her position at Weird Tales and what they're doing there look like a good match. I don't have my reponse card back from LCRW, but then with my past submissions they send it all back together in the SASE.

I've got a lot to read between now and Sunday's writer's group. Work is relaxing a bit (hey, only 6 hours of OT so far). Hopefully the rest of the week will go well. I need to type in all my notes for "Winter Occupant/7-Year Itch," that may break the log jam in my head.

Also I finished the John Scalzi books (Old Man's War and Android's Dream), which should also help with that log jam as well. I like John's work, but I've posted before that there are some authors that when I read their stuff my mind shuts down. It has nothing to do with the quality of their writing, but how it affects me. With some authors I'm constantly stopping reading to write down notes (which normally have nothing to do with what I'm reading, but story ideas and muse whisperings). I don't have that happen when I'm reading Scalzi, but I really like his books. Just a thing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Overheard lines

I think the TV is on Turner Classic Movies, and they're talking about Elizabeth Taylor, and I think that's Paul Newman's voice, and I swear he just said, "... and she was a fully functional voluminary." (as in voluptuous and illumunary). But then, I am not really watching the TV.

Camel Drive

Tobias Buckell points out a very worthy charity, The Camel Book Drive for an actual Camel Train Bookmobile that serves rural Kenyan populations.

I will also include the Adopt a Library.org which has a list of libraries in the US that also accept books (and what they're looking for). Many of these are American Indian Tribal Libraries, but there are also Correctional Facilities and some general rural libraries that would be more than happy to accept your used books (although they ask for them to be in good shape and hopefully current).

I've also donated to local libraries (they can always use good books), and some local libraries will also collect to donate to other libraries (such as those listed on Adopt a Library.org). Sometimes I give money, sometimes it's boxes of books.

Monday, March 19, 2007

World Gone Mad

Just what the heck happened today? My platesetter can't image this file correctly with absolutely no reason for it not to (works once, doesn't work the next moment). And it's weird stuff on the plate that's not in the file. And then the other client has decided to ignore all my warnings and, "well, try and make it work" (I got news for ya, it won't). Then a third is buring me with requests. Ugh! Massive overtime here I come, again.

Research! Science!

Ah, the last refuge of the eternal procrastinator, I mean, that immensely important function we as writers must make sure we do.

I ran the story by my wife, who knows a little more about the fey than I do (but I'm learning). She was bothered by my choice of fairy to do the nasty work of the story. Right now, the POV we follow for most of the story ends up being hung by one foot from the ceiling (chandelier hook) until he's dead, and then other nastiness may occur.

So, I took to the books. Ah, Katherine Briggs and Brian Froud (also Terri Windling), where would we be with out you? Seems I was right that a brownie can be very nasty when upset. While most of the stories related and cited have the brownie leaving their chosen domicile when offended (offering clothes seems the most common way), there are hints of other actions they may take. There was even a story about a brownie killing to avenge another brownie's life. So, brownies it is.

And I'm not talking the girl scout equivalent of cub scouts, or those fudge-y things with green specs, I'm talking about kicking butt and takin' down names fairies. Don't cha be messing with them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Story Bone (from and for Dan)

Here's a Bone from a long-time friend, Dan, who reads this blog but seldom comments. *Cough*

Anyway, Dan read a news story about a TV broadcast specifically programmed for aliens, Cosmic Connexion. This isn't Univision, this is Errai-vision or whatever. Bascially, it'll take about 44 years for the signal to reach Errai, a star in the big dipper. If memory serves, this is our closest neighbor with a known planetoid system and a star like our own. Now, we could discuss the concept of just how long a show stays on the air, (I think MASH was 10 years, and that was considered a very long time), or what aliens might think of summer re-runs, if they would be at a point that they would be able to receive and process such a signal (after all, TV is less than a century old and we've already changed technology for it twice (color and now HDTV) or any of the other silliness. But Dan would like to call out what a conversation would be like that is 50 years until you get a response. And that civilization would be the equivalent of our own, so no major advances in medicine (always a dubious thing in SF), no major tech transfers (which is also not necessarily so, as different events could lead to different conclusions which make the same tech possible, such as if we had gone with direct current instead of alternating current, our economy would be different, but our tech maybe the same). Anyway, so there it is. Almost a hundred years in between saying "Hi" and having "How are ya?" being delivered.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Alone by the side of the road

Well, the Muse must have gone off to drink for St. Patty's day, 'cause I've got nothing. I've been looking at this blank screen for hours. Nothing. I've got a working title, "Winter Occupant." Not spectacular, but there it is. I've got a new file on the hard drive. But not much else. Sigh. Too much distraction, not enough umph. Maybe I need a brain break. TV here I come.

Story Bone

Okay, here's a complex one. This is from a true story, so let me try and reconstruct the true story out of my take on it. This is something I heard on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) station I can get for most of my commute, I think it was on "As It Happens."

Two friends go hiking/skiing on a mountain. They get caught in bad weather, and an avalanche occures. Our POV character swims on the rampaging snow, but ends up getting his legs caught in the flow at the end. So he's trapped. He's also broken one leg. Everything but his skis, ski poles, and backpack are gone. And it's getting dark, and a blizzard is decending. He can't see his friend, no matter how much he calls out. Until night falls. And then he can hear his friend. His friend says he's going for help, since he can't pull our POV out. Our POV has to survive (melts snow using his body heat, creates a wind break, has to get his energy bars out). The blizzard continues all day, but our POV is able to keep on top of the snow, and at night, he hears his friend again. They ty to be encouraging to each other, but his friend is cagey about if he got help and when they'll arrive. The next day is bright and clear, no sign of our POV's friend. He does see a chopper, and spreads out his coat to try and signal them. That night the POV's friend returns and says a rescue is coming. Our POV just has to last long enough. Our POV doesn't see his friend, but only hears him. On the fourth day of this, our POV is able to escape from the snow, makes a splint using the poles, and crawls down the mountain. At night he friend keeps coming to talk with him. On the six day he is rescued. No sign of his friend. They don't find the friend's body until the spring, and determine he died in the avalanche.

True story. I know what and how I would change it into a ghost story, but I don't have the time to write it right now. And it needs to be free.

Well, I was finally able to find the link to the story. Here it is. I was remembering some of it wrong, but hey, it was almost a whole year ago. Anyway, you can listen to it (if you have RealAudio, which I don't). The story is "AVALANCHE SURVIVOR."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mind Numbing Hours

The past three weeks have seen not only record OT work, but also major Village stuff. So basically I've been eating dinner around 9pm each night. Not good for output.

On the plus side, the muse is tapping her foot, waiting for me to get started on the story, so that's what we'll be doing next.

And with winning the ARC, the negative of such is that there is no tracking number I can obsessively check to see where it is. This is unlike Amazon, etc. Yeah, so I'm obsessive compulsive about this one thing, sue me. Anyway, I'll just sit here all twitchy, waiting.

But, on the plus side, I have #492 of John Scalzi's "You're not fooling anybody..." I was the person who snagged the "Only 3 Left" copy on Amazon. I also had a CD that held up shipping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I win!

Woohoo! I won a Ragamuffin ARC (advanced readers copy) from Tobias. Yehaw.

Of course, I was also the only entrant, it seems. "Since Steve was the only one to jump in, Steve, email me your snail mail address for the ARC prize!"

That might or might not be high snark, but I don't care. I'm going to get a copy of Ragamuffin! Woohoo!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chick-lits? No, Ficlets!

John Scalzi (Ha! did you know about this post?) points to an interesting experiement, Ficlets. I've done this exercise before, someone writes a part, next person writes a part or a begining, iterate. It'll be interesting to see where this goes. I hope for John's sake (as he's a part of this) that it goes up. I'll probably use this to get juices flowing. I thought it might be good story bones, but the Creative Commons licensing bounces that idea. But it could be a lot of fun.

Edited 03-14-07, 8:20am. John gives props out to some people for Ficlets, AOL's Kevin Lawver and John Anderson. Good job, dudes. I hope it goes well for your sakes as well.

And Now With More Story!

The muse keeps giving. I don't know what I did, but I think we're rolling again. And I'm getting stuff about the whole story, not just the bone. I know the begining, and how I think it will end, along with the twist. Now I'm getting details. Who the main character is, Mathias "Megs" Thompson. All around bad guy. I don't have much of the middle, other than the pointers saying, "this is the character's goals, these are the antagonists' goals" and a few details about how each would get to their goals. This is going to be fun. Now I just need the time.

"The handwritten note pinned to the door read, 'The cabin is unlocked, so you don't need to break the door.'"

I've seen it raining fire in the sky

Colorado finally acknowledges common sense and names "Rocky Mountain High" their state song. 'Bout damn time, dudes. Yet there was still opposition because of the word "High." Are will that crazy, still?

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door...

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Because I'm Told to Do So

In the comments on another post I talked about the Muse being slightly upset with me. I must have been a good boy because she just dropped an interesting story bone in my head. Yes. Dark, foreboding, like that dream where you're trying to get someplace and just can't seem to get there. All of it. He he he. Yes, my darling, I'm listening, it is written down. From the ash bed stirs the flame waiting for tinder to ignite.

And Me Without My Incense

The Slush God has posted a progress report on his reading for the Pirate Issue of Shimmer. I'm in there somewhere. Mine was over the 5000-word limit, but hopefully I'm not in the reject file.

Did I post this one from the Capts. VanderMeer?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

That Thing Before Xmas


You might remember me saying that things around Xmas were slightly bumming me out. Well, here is the promised picture. This was the result of a fire the Monday before Xmas, two doors down from us. About midnight Bette woke me up saying the fire trucks just went by. I went out on my deck and saw this house of fire. It was fully involved. Think of the house being outlined in fire, that was what this was like. For a moment I thought it was our neighbor's house. As you can see, we have a lot of woods. So I threw on some clothes and went out with my neighbors to bear witness.

This was the most silent fire I ever heard. Nothing. Really. I could hear the fireman's equiment jangeling. All our trucks were out, Rome and Windsor had also responded. A friend of mine was one of the first responders, the fire was called in by two other guys two minutes before he got on scene (he used ot be a firefighter, and he was in the right place to respond). Three minutes later our trucks started showing up. They couldn't get in the house. Silent fire.

I was pretty sure, after hearing the reports, that the old man who lived here would be found inside. I went home to call the mayor. The guys would need a pick up, Larry can do that. On the way back home I knew the old man was dead. There is a smell particular to human flesh burning. I couldn't smell it near the fire, I could on my lawn.

I knew they wouldn't find much. Just look at the house. It's gone. Two hours was the total burn time. Plus, once the fire was mostly out our firemen started searching form the outside. Just look at the house, our chief wasn't going to send somebody through that (don't know what's good floor and what's not). At that point I figured he was in the center of the house. And he was there, you can see his car in the garage. The guys looking in what was left of the bedroom side of the house didn't react. Nobody turned, cleared mask, and tossed cookies. I knew he was in the middle.

I hate being right sometimes. They didn't find much of him. The real pisser is that his daughter lives next door, opposite from us. Fortunately some neighbors who knew her better were helping. It wasn't until after eight when the chief ordered people in the house. That's how long it was too hot to go in. At two in the morning the middle of the house was gone. Very hot, very silent fire.

Go check the batteries in your fire detectors. This guy was our former fire chief.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Reboot

Attempting to reboot. I haven't written much fiction since I finished Robert's Thunder. So I'm listening to some music I've put together to try and help. Most important is Susan Werner's "Courting the Muse." I just love her music. Her and Annie Lennox. "Stop the world, just shut it down." What a voice. What nice ladies.

So here's some other writerly things.

Podcasts
The Odyssey Workshop Podcasts. Another 6 week intensive workshop that if I were young, I'd go to. (props out to Jeff VenderMeer's blog, also Locus Online).

From Confusion, by Time Traveler, podcasts of some panels. You'll have to scroll down some. (props out to Tobias Buckell).

"I've felt the coldness of my winter, I never thought it would ever go, I cursed the gloom that set upon us, But I know that I love you so... Upon us all a little rain must fall. Just a little rain? Ooooh, yeah yeah yeah!" Rock on, gettin' the Led out.

And I forgot I put Enya's Ebudae in here. I love that song. Whenever I have to imagine kilted warriors hiking over the misty hills, this song comes into my mind.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Butt of All Jokes

I haven't posted since Saturday. Wanna know why? Remember the joke about the Colorectal Surgery? Yeah, I just answered the fourth question about that job. To explain more could jeapordize the job, so I don't want to explain it too much. But I got asked about it, that specific letterhead, which was a part of a larger order, on Saturday. Then I was asked about it on Monday Morning and then again if the afternoon. And I was just asked about it for shipping purposes and where we got this file. I replied that I pulled it out of my butt. I said this with as much of a straight face as I could muster.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Weird Synchronicity

Well, I just plated letterhead for a Colorectal Surgery group. Yep, that pretty much explains how my Saturday is going. Business cards are next! I hate having to "work" on weekends (even with time and a half). I hope yours is going better.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Well, we'll call it a day and see if it goes to its head

Thanks, everybody, for all the well wishes on the story. It certainly made the rest of my day. I feel excellent about it still.

The rest of the day, though, sucked wind. It was so ten times the flavor of suckiness, I get to go into work tomorrow to finish with the suckatude. Even with that, there will probably still be suck left over for Monday.

So believe me, you guys made my day. Give yourselves an "atta boy/girl."

Besides all the work related crap, including several kernel panics (my firsts in four years of using OS X), the incredible disappearing fonts that are installed but the software doesn't want to see them until I restart twice, the multiple "this must be done now" new-to-my-desk jobs, and one client just going crazy bat crap on submitting job work, there was the home stuff with a hot water heater going south (call from Bette), some issues with friends, and some other things I don't want to get into.

But on the plus side, you guys, the request for the full story, I left work while it was still daylight (had to go to Home Depot), and that the water heater was just the pressure value (and good dust cleaning worked), and my wife found copies of Tobias Buckell's book and John Scalzi's Old Man's War at the second hand shop, so I have two books I really like in my collection (both were library reads). Now only if one of my Mega Millions numbers hit (personal and office pools), I'll be set. And it means I get to play fan boy again with two authors I really like (oh yes, you two, I'm comin' at ya with a pen, get ready).

Tomorrow I get to go back to work. On the plus side it'll all be time and a half, and I already have nine hours of overtime this week (I couldn't work more because of council meetings). I'm really looking forward to Sunday.

Oh, and another plus, this month's Ansible is out. Reading it now.

Shimmer of a Glimmer

The Submission Wrangler at Shimmer requested all of Robert's Thunder. I'm so happy. Yippie!

So they're reading the story (not right at this moment, but it's in the stack). Hope springs something or other.