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And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bad News and the Other Bad News

All around wonderful person Camille informs me that a ".Mac" email address seems to be having epic fail issues from one of her work email addresses. This is highly distressing. The email is bouncing back as undeliverable. Has anybody else sent email to me to have it bounce? I think I have two emails I need to respond to, but those are ongoing conversations. Has anybody else sent me something that I've never responded to, or received a bounced back email?

Sometimes .Mac has issues and goes offline for a few hours, but then when it comes back all the email should clear through. I used to have problems with a Bigfoot email address, which is why I no longer use it. I guess I should try and see if my gmail address will forward, or if I can get Mail to check that. For those of my friends who work in tech support the disconnect seems to be occurring with a server named drift.myserverhosts.com.

Oh yes, she also rejected my poem for Diet Soap. But it was a very nice rejection. Something about not quite fitting the themes. Fair cop. Thanks Camille.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It Only Takes a Moment

It's a rare event when I see a movie on opening weekend, but we got to the theater early, and we noticed that there were very few cars in the lot. So we switched going to see the latest Indiana Jones movie, which I'll probably see next weekend with my Mom, to seeing WALL-e Pixar, what can you say.

I recommend it. Heck, the theater was about a third full, mostly parents with really young kids (less than 10-years old, more like 3-7 years), and there was very little chatter. Which you'll think is amazing when you hear me say that the first half of the film is essentially a silent movie. Now, there's lots of sound, and the repeating playing of park/date scene from Hello, Dolly (and the song, "It Only Takes a Moment"). Yes, WALL-e and EVE make some speech sounds, but they're so minimal that you could replace them with lip reading and three dialog cards if the characters were human. And, WALL-e is Buster Keaton, no doubt about it the writers and animators did their film research. Like I said, it's a silent movie.

The second half of the movie is a mash-up of Titanic (what do you think "Axiom" refers to anyway) and 2001, A Space Odyssey. It's well done, but all the tell-tale signs are there. I'm not going to give you spoilers, there's other sites that'll do that.

There were some glaring plot bunny problems with the movie, and it gets somewhat sappy at points, but it's a very smart film. Really, I would point out some things that happen (that are crucial to the plot, not like how WALL-E's full power sound is the Macintosh "Bong" noise, hilarious BTW), but I'd rather you see them for yourself. Big hint, keep track of everybody and everything WALL-e comes in contact with. That's an important plot issue.

There's plenty of Pixar humor spread throughout. If you go to a matinee (which we didn't, also a rare event), the pre-feature short is worth at least that much. Really, Pixar humor at it's finest.

The over-all message and plot line of the movie is a bit didactic, but hey, the target audience isn't so much into subtlety if you know what I mean. Even with that, I enjoyed the film.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well, that's how you should be starting every day

All around wonder woman, Camille, announces on her blog her multiple recent sales. Including one to Fantasy magazine! Good work, Camille, you rock! You all should go tell her how wonderful she is (yeah, I know, there's a big overlap in our audiences already).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thumpers, Gunboys, and Bladesmen, oh my

So, yesterday, before I'm finished with the other three stories in progress (not to mention the novel... the novel, ::zombie arms:: must write novel), a new one flows out. This one also uses characters I've written about before (but have never finished the stories).

Not that I'm complaining, but I really wish my Muse would keep to the subject at hand. The Muse gives what the Muse gives, she doesn't care a damn about your schedules.

In other writing news, after going to the SF/F poetry group meeting on Monday, Tuesday saw serious set back in the form of things with the night job going all pear-shaped. Damnit. I feel like Scotty in one of the movies, he's on the view screen as something goes "sprong" and steam starts pouring out behind him "I just fixed that thing!" Tomorrow is the doctor's appointment. Hopefully there is a solution. In there, somewhere.

But back to the Muse. Three handwritten pages (notepad sized, but I write small) of a fairly complete scene. There are details to be added, but I think this brings into focus the world this character lives in (that was a stumbling point in earlier stories, which I really would like to finish). In a brutish economy of thumpers and gunboys, he's above them as a bladesman. Most of all, he gets the job done. His job is sending messages. Just his presence in the action means that someone was willing to spend big bucks. "Only four people in this city can afford to have a bladesman on staff," as he would say. In this scene he says, "I'm an old school hacker." This is said while brandishing a very nice katana. This is not his normal sword, and there is a history with the blade he's using, but the katana is the right tool for the job.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Commercials

I've worked in advertising, and I've ranted. Two great tastes that go great together.

"American" Car manufacturers, 30mpg (highway) for a subcompact SUCKS. Quit trying to sell me on how great your vehicle line up is for cars that are in their second revision that you've never advertised on TV before, who get worse gas mileage than the car I traded in four years ago. Oh, and I bitch and moan when my Civic gets 36mpg highway during the winter. So having your top mileage below that, you aren't working hard enough (and spare me the "what the market wanted" or I'll expose the SUV and especially the Hummer 2-3 for what they are). We can build them. Hell, we are building them. You're engineers and market "gurus" can't get their heads out of their asses fast enough on this issue. Oh, and keep putting the battery below the washer fluid reservoir and other things that make it difficult to work on simple things ourselves.

Subway "Burger Barn Commercial." Paranoia? FU Subway. No soup for you. Oh, and Jerod's major weight loss, ski machine, not your stinking sandwiches. I'm going to remind everybody I know about that. He used exercise. Oh, and this commercial (plus the fact that Sub Sandwiches have the bread holding meat and other stuffings, they were not, Not, farging NOT meant to be a vehicle to flavor the bread with meat) you're not getting anymore of my money.

Five Million people have called Consolidated Credit? How many of those were, "Please put me on your no call list." And no, he doesn't look good.

There's this new commercial for an anti-perspirent, don't remember the name. Has some hot brunette, shows her under arm with a wet spot. Gee, that isn't cool (but holding her arm up pulls her blouse tight to show off her nice rack). Then she uses product, is dancing like a teenaged boy does (really, nobody dances like that except uptight people at weddings), has hunk come up behind her, she reaches up and behind to grab his skull. Look, no wet spot (and still nice rack). Two words for whatever company this is (really, don't even remember the name, I barely remember your product). Sex sell (obviously), but get some production values, dude. This looks like it was produced by a high-school freshman AV club (and not a good one). Oh, and when I was free and out dancing in clubs, if I had a shot at the hot brunette, a wet spot under her arm isn't going to stop me. I'm dancing, more than likely I'm sweaty too. Plus, if all goes well, the blouse isn't going to be an issue after a while. Sex sells.

Sometimes I'm very embarrassed for my profession.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stop, what's that sound...

So, I've heard a lot of night noises; deer moving through woods and grasses, owls hunting, raccoons, frogs, peepers, kids walking though my woods, alien abductions. But tonight was a new one.

A heron at feeding at night. Completely weird and unexpected (we had to go through some field guides with CDs to call it). The only other thing close would be frightened deer (but, while the animal is moving, it's all around a small area, I would think the deer would light out over the field, and it isn't really a mammal sound).

We also had a black bear last week. I didn't get to see it, but supposedly it went through my neighbor's field. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't that (as our kitty is getting older and I don't want her to be a bear chew toy).

But herons. Freaky.

There's Something Wrong With the World Today

Well, this morning started off with hearing that George Carlin had passed on to the great censor in the sky. "Funny, he was here just a minute ago." I wonder if he no longer needs his stuff?

Then things got worse.

I have this theory that there are some projects that simply do not want to be finished. Not only did I have to run three sets of plates, it broke my machine, and then it broke the press. Did not want to get done. And that was this morning.

This evening went better with the poetry group. I had a lot of fun. And there was great poetry to share! Always fun.

And because you know exactly what I am when it comes to contests for books, John Scalzi points out there is a contest for Neil Gaiman's new book, The Graveyard Book.

Oh, and congrats to Nathan for winning the first drawing of Todd Wheeler's Summer Reading Contest.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's only 4.5 hours left until I have to get up (still wired from driving home late).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Okay, well, the weekend wasn't a total waste, but there was plenty of distraction and procrastination.

While some things went swimmingly well, better than to be expected, others just sucked wind.

Hope your weekends were more productive.

Tomorrow night is a meeting of an SF Poetry Critique group, and I have an invite. I'm still debating if I can go or not. I should, just to see what it's like. But it is a work night, and the meeting doesn't start until 7. Plus, I'm all wonky with the poetry thing. Sure, I've been writing it, or it's more like that it's been leaking out of my ears, but it's been years.

I'll take my poetry on my flash drive, print out the directions, and make my mind up sometime tomorrow. Plus, there is the possibility of a Village Meeting tomorrow (sigh).

Fear is the mind killer.

Also, before I forget, thanks to everybody that helped me make a decision last week. I had my first invite to be a convention panelist. A momentary burst of "OMG! That so rocks!" followed quickly by "Holy crap, how could I ever do that." Well, with all your help I got over myself pretty quick and said, "Yes, I'd be delighted." Still haven't heard back (I think the person who asked was very busy this past weekend). So that may be one more convention I go to this year.

Also, while thinking about conventions, because someone who reads this blog asked me very nicely if I was going to Armadillocon, I now know a number of people (to varying degrees, but well enough to have a meal with) who are going. I had to say no, though. Sadly, airfare is not in the budget for this year (while OT is up lately, not enough to generate the wild spending of previous years). Ah, well. Hope you all are going to have fun. Austin was a cool city when I was there (only for a day) in the 90s. Although middle Texas in the hot days of Summer, where the grass crunches, the insects carry away small children and the armadillo's are, well, armadillos, is the reason why we have air conditioning.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Writing Fast to Avoid Rain

I'm sitting outside today, the scent of citronella wafting through the air, somewhat ineffectually, and writing. Due to a prompt from the ever nice Camille, I've rewritten the haiku (and made it standard 5, 7, 5 instead of the reverse 7, 5, 7 it was) and submitted it to Diet Soap (where she is editor). I don't think the rewrite made it as strong, but I figured maybe doing the standard thing might help. Anyway, here's hoping.

I'm also attempting to write hate mail to John Scalzi. See, he's got this contest going to win a new book, and if I'm anything, I'm a sucker for a contest to win books. Oh yes, there is vitriol to go around, literary and art references and disparagements of his parenthood. Good times.

Speaking of contests, all around fab guy Todd Wheeler would like to remind you all that the first deadline of his contest is TODAY! So get on it.

And now the booming in the distance, as well as the reduced light, fat drops of water and increased insect activity are all telling me it's time to go back inside. Hope you all are having fun today.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Those rascally poems

More poetry has occurred
Not as good as "What the Sea Sends"
Troubled birthing pains
In dire need of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery

So we don't send it out
We talk in loud whispers
Use Dr. Shoal's amazing freeze wand
to remove its warts

Then we send it through therapy
This is not the poem you seek
This is not the Scrimshaw Man
That is another poem.

It may never see light
as the premise is stolen
like a babe in the night
a changeling of sticks and moss left in crib

or

The poem you seek
Is not the one in hand now
Try back tomorrow

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oil, Oil Everywhere, We're Practically Swimming In Profits

Wow, look, some people are starting to talk sense (somewhat, but with inflated estimates) about domestic oil production. And they're using some numbers, but not explaining those numbers which takes us back to the old quote, "numbers don't lie, but liars sure use numbers."

So here's some fun stuff, from the US Government itself (that link can start you out on the journey). First of all, hey, look, Saudi Arabia is now the #2 oil importer to the US. They moved up fast in the past few years (they used to be #4).

If we can tap all the offshore drilling areas (includes East, West, and Gulf Coast) we could tap 18 Billion Barrels (total) of the black gold. Sounds impressive, no?

Well, currently we import around 5 Billion Barrels of oil a year. So let's say we could instantly get all that oil out, it would only last us a little over 3 years.

The President says ANWR could produce 10-12 billion barrels. Well, he's a bit off, 95% probability of about 6 billion barrels, only a 5% probability of 16 billion, leading to a mean of 10.3 billion barrels. Okay, but I'll point out, when you want to skew the numbers, only get two data points (earlier estimates, ie. 1980, came in with a mean of 2 billion barrels). So let's say we get lucky and get 10 billion barrels, doesn't mean crap because it's heavy oil, and our refineries (the majority of them) aren't built to handle it. Yeah, didn't see that one coming. So this oil would get sold to the Asia Rim.

Lastly we've been hearing about the Green River (and other) formations (about 800 billion barrels). I'll remind you that this is shale oil. It is only profitable if the price per barrel is over $70. Not a problem now. The technology to extract the oil is not proven, and the oil is mined (like they do in Canada, primer on tar sands, and for contrast a more critical analysis), not drilled. I wonder where they will put all that shale powder when they're done.

And now you know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Chilly Morning Drive - Publishing News

(I've typed and then deleted this post three times already. I guess I should just post it. Hope it all still makes sense.)

So, I'm driving into work on Friday, and this story comes on NPR, Publishers Push for New Rules on Unsold Book. In the story they talk about the crazy world of returns, and how expensive it's getting shipping books back and forth several times.

And then the clinker where the CEO of Barnes and Nobel talks about how the policy of returns is insane and that the industry should come up with a different idea. Like printing fewer titles.

Shazam! (insert ominous music here)

With fewer titles they can then focus on making all bestsellers. They don't have to ship, stock, mark-down, dust titles that won't sell more than a handful of books. B&N could standardize their catalog (centralized control of the market) more. "Everybody will buy these books because we're not going to offer them a choice," is what the CEO is saying.

Now, there are benefits to fewer titles. Maybe books would have longer shelf lives (which translates to better sales), the share of marketing money and drive would see each book get more, etc, etc.

However, fewer books means if the publisher doesn't think they can sell at least 20,000 units of your title, you're not going to get a contract. How many authors out there would be published with that standard? See how few hands were raised. Okay, of those left, how many of you would have made the cut with your first books published?

See why that ominous music is still playing.

The small press renaissance would be killed. New author development, already stifled, would be knifed. And, within a decade, the industry as we know it would be radically different. And I would predict, B&N which is the 800lb gorilla in the room (with buying and distribution) would be dead. Yes, what the CEO is asking for would lead to his own company's demise. Publishing relies on fresh blood. Sure, walk into the horror section and you can evenly divide the place by King/Koontz/Straub and Everybody Else. Look at the shelf space for SF/F and you can see the heavy weights taking up the shelf space. But all those other titles keep the whole ball of wax rolling along. Who knows who will be the next BNA? Hemingway wasn't Hemingway when he was writing for The Kansas City Star.

It's not all bad. Young and mid-list authors would be forced to develop web delivery of their product. Someone would figure out how to monetize it. Creation would still go on. The signal to noise ratio would worsen, but I think the markets would shake out. Print-on-demand may actually come into being, as consumers would be forced to this option. However, that means successful authors would have to become their own publishers (which is already happening with the loss of marketing money and with the direction of self-publishing). This, IMHO, is not a good thing.

With fewer titles B&N would see an immediate profit increase as overhead decreased. After a few years, though, customers would wander away in search of their next book fix. Sales would decline. B&N would look at the last time they made a profit (when they cut titles) and redo the actions (cut more titles). Eventually no one would really care to enter their stores except for textbooks (which are leading the way for electronic delivery). As they watch the top line dive for ground cover the B&N executives would decry the death of the printed page, all the while it would be thriving in niche markets and stores. If B&N didn't control so much of the distribution chain, I would say independent stores would reblossom. Unfortunately, with the direction to fewer titles being given by the 800lb gorilla, the supply of new titles would be choked off at the source.

This is the same death Apple nearly suffered as it focused on a smaller core audience, and then started sub-dividing that audience. Fortunately, Steve Jobs came back without nearly a decade of "focus on the core" being drummed into his head, and then the digital music revolution happened.

The best thing to happen would be to have the CEO deploy his golden parachute early.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tagged like an endangered polar bear trying to find an iceberg

You've seen the meme, "Fifth Sentence, Page 123." Yes, well, Mr. Matt Mitchell decided it would be fun to tag me. So, I'm going to give just a little more (he he he he, that'll learn them) and add in another meme, "One thing about me that you don't know that relates to said 5th sentence" (others who pick up this thread need not continue this) and leave off the last commandment of the first. Consider it my version of blogosphere "telephone line."

“To participate, you grab any book, go to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and blog it. Then tag five people.”

Okay, since I was playing with this book earlier tonight, I'm going to use it. "Arms and Armor, The Cleveland Museum of Art." For those of you who are not from NE Ohio, the Cleveland Museum of Art is a world class museum, and it's Armor Court is world renown. I used to love visiting it. Have I explained my fascination with sharp, pointy, shiny objects before? Oh, we likes them we do, Precious.

This catalog was my gift from going to the armor exhibit a few weeks back. It details much of the CMA's collection (very extensive) and how they displayed it. If you think I'm crazy about the Armor Court, know that when the CMA starts opening back up (they're undergoing extensive renovations) this is the first permanent gallery they will open. That's how important, good, and impressive it is.

The fifth sentence on page 123 is (depending on how you count it):

"The Earl of Clarendon observed of the king's infantry at the Battle of Edge Hill in 1642, that 'in the whole body there was not one pikeman had a corslet.'"

Or (in the description of the photos on the page - 2 of them)

"Broadswords with large double-edged blades, such as this one (Basket-hilt broadsword - mortuary sword - Hilt: England, c 1640-50, Blade: Germany, Solingen(?), Early 18th Century [166]), were designed for heavy cavalry use and were common from the seventeen through nineteenth centuries."

And now the personal part. On page 134 (just the block down from 123) is a picture of their Schiavona Broadsword (this one is a late period and has a very ornate basket). "Schiavona" means "Slavonic." My last name is Slavic. It may look Germanic (and has it's own unique meaning in German), but my family is from what is now Southern Poland. My name is a job description, and basically translates into Forest Ranger for a specific area (Buch). That would have meant my forbearers were arms-men. That particular area of the world was known for a specific export, young mercenaries (ironic given my distaste for them, no?). My ancestors would have been permitted to carry swords (not everybody was, despite what you see at Medieval Fairs) and be sworn to the local king. The Schiavona was the preferred weapon from this part of the world, our trademark if you will, and was also used as a nickname for the troops of mercenaries that came from that region. My ancestors, more than likely, would have carried such a blade.

I have only ever found one reproduction for sale, and I didn't have the cash at the time. I think Windlass Steel makes a version now, though I don't like their craftsmanship (although, it may have improved). And I've never had the money (or complete drive) to commission one. But they're a beautiful thing. I've never liked basketed hilts as they hamper my style, but these are very open and generous and wouldn't rap my knuckles every time I'd flex my grip. And the basket is configured differently than most rapiers.

So the end part of the tag, if you wanna be tagged, go ahead and consider yourself tagged. Just post here with a link to your own blog entry. And now, if you'll excuse me, the one-and-a-half handed sword is calling my attention. Ooo, and they have an excellent picture of the executioner's sword! Oo, I know whom I liked to use that baby on.

Edit I realize this morning that the last statement there was ambiguous. Just to clarify it a little, I didn't mean I'd use it against Matt or anyone who is reading this blog.

What's that Noise from Western Ohio?

Normally I don't make mention of all the cool things that happen to my writer friends that made it big (except for some in the group I attend). While I do drop names sometimes, I don't like doing it all the time (hey, gotta take a break from being a show off). But then there are some very cool things that need shouting.

I'm so damn happy that I know Tobias Buckell that sometimes I can't believe my luck and temerity. Tobias, as I've mentioned before, is a very cool guy. When you're reading writing advice that says you should emulate the actions of good writers, Tobias is one of those you should watch. Since I found him through the "Getting Past Being Joeblow Neopro" essay he's someone I've paid close attention to. I'm not sure I'm his biggest fan (I've seen others), but I really do like his work.

That's how I know that not only does he write great action stories, he's also a lover of the video games. That's what it's so damn cool that he is writing the next Halo novel. If you like the video game, you should be happy to know that the next novelization is in good hands. And for writing, I think it's a cool badge of honor to be chosen. Tobias, you rock.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Paging Mr. Indiana Jones, paging Mr. Jones...

Everybody can stop looking, the Holy Grail (link goes to Making Light which has links to various news sources) has been found. The Holy Grail of fuel cell tech. Of course, the catalyst that does the water sep is probably made of something like hens teeth, or costs millions of dollars to produce an ounce, and you need a pound of it, and that only lasts a few months.

If this tech proves out, this is very much the next thing. No pressurized hydrogen tanks, we already have a water delivery system, and how just friggin' cool is that.

But just like they say in the comments, probably not true.

Easy Steps to Write a Novel (in 12 years)

Justine Larbeleister is letting cats our of bags again (which is easier than the reverse). Now she's talking about finishing a novel (something I'm mildly interested in). Turns out it takes equal doses of embarrassment and a support group.

Have I ever said here publicly how much I like the writer's group I'm in? I do, I really do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Muse, she does edits

So, this story has been coming out of order. There was a piece that came the other day, and I didn't know where it fit (I thought it was part of the denumount). Then, as I'm about to get in the car tonight, the Muse does her gentle nudging thing and I realize it comes in the climax.

(draft zero)
Lighting struck the cane, which Jed was still holding to the sky. The charge surged through Ben and knocked him to the ground, giving up his grip on Jed. His mouth felt like he had been chewing foil and there was pain everywhere.

"Frankenstein had it wrong, Ben." There was a close clap of thunder. "You have to start with live tissue. Otherwise it's just cheap reanimation, the poor relative of actual immortality. Leave me now, Ben. It's your only chance," shouted Jed.

This is right before the final lightning strike(s) which sets the fields on fire, and Jed disappears. Leaving Ben at the bottom of the hillock suffering from having be struck (although, he gains some benefit from it). And I like that Jed calls Frankenstein a punter.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can't help myself

Waiting for an oil change, poetry happened. Rewrote it three times while there. Came home and pounded the crap out of it, but I have my first structured poem in a coons age, "What the Sea Sends."

I think it's fantasy. It has witches, it has the dead.

Now to send it off. edit It's off to Andromeda Spaceways Magazine.

The Myths We Tell Ourselves

"All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other." - Abraham Lincoln

Party of Lincoln my ass.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Muselings

The Muse gives in her own time and according to her own purpose.

"Your Google-fu is weak, Grasshopper."

Yeah, that was the only line I had the other day. Strange thing is that I know exactly where in the novel it comes.

Open Letter About Oil

Blog letter to the US Senate

Dear US Senators,

Let me state it clearly again. ANWR will take 10 years to get online, if all goes perfectly. ANWR drilling requires unproven and, so far, undeveloped technology (ie., research and development, no working prototypes) and reserves less than Prudhoe Bay. Drilling off the West Coast of Florida would have oil on the market in less than 5 years using existing technology that is currently being manufactured and would tap an oil-field estimated to be 5 times that of the original Texas oil-fields (combined). West Coast Florida oil would require less transportation costs to refineries.

If you only say drilling in ANWR (to solve our oil crisis), you are a complete idiot, undeserving of your elected seat. Not only will increased US production do nothing to lower the cost of oil (it's sold on a World Market, get that through your heads), doing it by only drilling in ANWR and other Federally Protected Areas will do very little to decrease our dependance and only give another tax write off to companies that need to hide their record profits. It will also do nothing to help change our economy from an oil-based economy to a renewable-based economy.

Just like you all don't get "the internets" you are showing your ignorance here. Considering how much big oil is lobbying you, that ignorance is staggering.

Your constituents are watching.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ha! Take that, Bembridge Gremlins!

Running of the Deer is back out to Ideomancer. Good luck little story.

Love those e-subs (and duotrope).

One Less Link to Click - Rejection City and other thoughts

Just got a rejection letter from Jim Baen's Universe for Running of the Deer, so my compulsive clicking behavior can cease now (I'll just allocate my bandwidth usage to a recent order from Amazon).

Paula Goodlett, Managing Editor, sends what looks mostly like a form letter (appreciate my submission, won't be forwarding it on) with the extra line to send them anything else I'd like. That will most certainly happen. Hopefully soon my life will calm down from the other jobs and I'll be able to go through the Slush Bar (okay, well I really do hope that I wouldn't qualify, but I'll take what I can get). Thanks for the consideration.

In other writing news, I've been trying to go through what was so different about last week's writing break out. I'm not so sure I like the answer, although it seems obvious (since I wrote it out in a post, Freudian blogging?). I just didn't care about the other jobs last week. That's what was different. With the required notice and meeting package being delivered on Friday, I couldn't ignore it any more. So writing over the weekend tapered off. Margle.

My Nephew Rocks

(hey, if he had a blog I would point you there) Jared Beck, you rock. You SOB, you got into USC Graduate Film School and you didn't let us know. Oh sure, the phone was busy, like I haven't heard that before. :)

Congrats, dude. Welcome to graduate school poverty. Good luck.

Sure, you laughed when we gave you all that home making stuff for your graduation, didn't you. Hopefully we'll get to talk sometime in the summer, if not I might get to see you at Xmas (although, I doubt it, see earlier paragraph).

Story Bones

So I'm catching up on some podcast when I run into the Bob Edwards show from May 31-June 1. The first part of the program was about some song heritage (which I'm mildly interested in).

The second part of the show was with Andrew Blechman about his new book
Leisureville. about age-restricted retirement communities. In the interview there was lots of social discussion and the ramifications of intentional segregation. Just how large these communities are is shocking. Also, the kind of life inside may be surprising (the politics, the faked construction, importation of work, etc).

There's something in there about colony starships, the intentional segregation, imposed and faked cultures. Interesting to get a case study about it. Including the statement about how these communities don't have cemeteries. Very interesting that is.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

He's Moved, and a New Contest

Hey, all around cool guy and frequent commenter Todd Wheeler has moved his blog to his website.

And in even better news, he's running a new summer reading contest. As a past winner, I have to say that these contests are cool. I'm still using most of the swag he sent me from, what, two years ago. Plus, I think it's real cool he's sponsoring it.

But I Look Normal

I'm an internet junkie. I can't help it. When the internet functions well, and sites provide interactivity of the right kind (there is a wrong kind, BTW), I just love it.

Take ordering from Amazon. Yes, I do a lot of ordering from Amazon. And sometimes I get the packaged shipped UPS. UPS provides a great tracking function. So does FedEx. In fact, for you Mac users out there, you can download a widjet that will help you track the package, just in case you get tired of logging into the sites and clicking on the links. The USPS trackers, though, suck wind. Hey, USPS, you've teamed with FedEx to deliver packages, get something back by getting their tracking software. Just an idea.

Can you tell sometimes I obsessively check the delivery of orders? Yeah, we all can't be balanced everywhere in our lives.

This brings me to my love of electronic submissions. I really love them. I'll sometimes choose a market that pays a little less because they accept electronic submissions. Now, I do love actually mailing things, and receiving real mail. There's something in me that loves it. I also love listening to live radio and watching live TV. But here is where the internet is a better delivery mechanism. So it improves our lives.

This is a long way of getting to my point.

When you submit to Baen, they send you a link to check on the status of your story. Really cool idea, except for us compulsive types. Now, I know I should click on that link more than, say, once every other day, and not as often as, say, every hour.

Oh internets, how you taunt us.

Losing My Respect

When I injured my hand, I went to the stat care facility under a Worker's Comp claim.

Ever since then I've been getting letters from lawyer about how to pursue my "claim" and "get all the money I'm entitled to."

Now, in general, I do have a high regard for lawyers. But lately I've also been seeing ambulance chaser ads on TV. At least in the old days those that choose that side of the law actually had to chase the ambulances. Sending out mass mailings and running ads on TV (and the back of the yellow pages) just cheapens it all up, you know.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lightning Histrionics

Just finished typing in the note from last night (as I was trying to go to sleep) and today. We're at about 1950 words. It's all in pieces parts (and slightly out of order). There's more I need to get, but a lot of it's there. I need to do some latin research.

But at night I'm a junk food junkie

Well, this week I went without pop at work, the whole week. The pop I started last week is more than likely flatter than a madrigal choir with the flu.

At night, though, I've drunk the equivalent of a 2 liter. Bad dieter. No cookie.

I do have a serious question through. I've only started "watching my weight" (in a weighing myself most days). I've never been a big proponent of it. And it's only because we have a scale at work that I'm able to do it. We don't have a scale here in the house. What I've noticed is a big swing between the days of the week. Like five pounds over the course of a week. The good news is that today I was up, but I wasn't up over my low this week, nor as much as last week.

Is a 5lb swing in a week normal?

A History of Lightning

Okay, I have to admit, writing this story is a ride. I think this is the first time since I decided to do this for real (and for sure) that I've been writing it while still in the grips of the ecstasy of discovery. For most stories I take notes and then try and get it written before it goes stale in my head. This one, I do have notes when I can't really type, but then I get it typed out pretty soon afterward.

What's different here? I'm ignoring other work. And now that I've said that out loud, I feel guilty. I'm ignoring follow up on some council things and finishing a brochure.

I may be tempting the fates here, but my muse says it's okay. This is fun. The story just keeps coming out. This morning I got the denumount. So far it's about 200 words or so. A quick wrap up in case somebody missed what was going on and might have believed what Ben did that Jed was committing suicide. And you get to meet the new Jed, Hamish Abraham.

It's been a wild ride so far. I hope it continues.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sausage Writerly Links

There's a bunch of sites to point to, so instead of making individual posts, might as well just make one post.

Mary Robinette Kowal (a name you should know) giver her advice on how to attend a convention. Very good advice. In fact, I think I'm going to make it required reading before each con I go to for a while (just like Tobias' "Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro"). (Glommed from Matt Staggs, I think)

The good people over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing, well, specifically Shaun Farrell, want you to know about Singularity Audio. Seems they're leveraging their experience with audio programming to help you market your book with an audio book trailer. Having listened to a bunch of podcasts, I can say Shaun is very good with his audio (to everybody else, the secret is to bang the rocks together guys, no seriously, it's called "levels," check it out, and make sure they're even and near full). I wish him the best with this endeavor.

Jeff VanderMeer is pushing an excellent art book. Artists inspired by Lovecraft. And he shares pictures on his blog. Ain't they tasty. The book is by Centipede Press. Also, Jeff was named Assistant Director of Wofford College’s Shared Worlds Creative Writing Program. Congrats Jeff. Also, that program sounds excellent (thanks Matt Staggs for letting us know). Wish I had the time and money to go.

There, three is a good number to stop with. It's a magic number, after all.

On the cottage on the shore of a dark Scottish Lake

So this morning was the kind of storm Jed is waiting for. The kind of storm that makes religious folks ask their gods just what they did wrong to deserve such wrath.

The lightning wasn't as intense as the story. Although with each strike the windows rattled. I'm sure a few of my trees were hit. I'll need to see what's been damaged when I go home tonight.

And isn't it a fun feeling to get in the shower as the booming is going on?

It didn't last a long as the storm in the story, nor was it as fierce or directed, and there was a lot of rain. I mean, a lot of rain. Flooded yard lot of rain.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A History of Lightning

"Jedidiah Abraham had a history of lightning. "

Have his full name now, and a first line that doesn't suck so much.

Now to get more out instead of surfing.

Submission

Sent Running of the Deer off to Jim Baen's Universe. Don't know why (okay, well, yeah I do know why I guess) it took me so long to get this one out again. I probably should have used the Slush Bar, but I just did a regular submission. Why? I guess I'm a masochist.

No, I know why. I really don't want to rewrite this (too much). If the story was fresh in my head, maybe. I did workshop it, so I think it's in somewhat good shape.

There's those gremlins again.

It's in friggin' fab shape. Damnit.

Senior Moment

Well, Sen. McCain is having some memory problems. He says that Obama is for the old, tired, big government ideas that did work. And he said this in Louisana. Well, I give him credit for having balls.

Let us see. Hurricane Andrew in 92, was a national tragedy. The city of Homestead was pretty well wiped from the Florida landscape, and there was extensive damage all along the gulf coast. With those tired old big government ideas, FEMA came in and helped care for the people on the ground, and worked to help get them back on their feet. The government coordinated the massive individual giving and the various NGOs that came in to help. It became the model for how FEMA should operate in the face of a disaster.

With our new smaller government, libertarian ideas of people helping themselves, FEMA's response to Katrina in 2005 stands in start relief of these new ideas John McCain wants to continue. The government stood back and let individuals help, didn't want to interfere with private donations and the thousand points of light, didn't want to get in the way of the individual. How did that work out, BTW?

John McCain is having memory problems.

He said that Obama hasn't had to deal with the tough issues that may put off his own supporters. Really? Maybe John hasn't been watching the news lately. But, just like his inability to keep Sunni and Shia straight, I'm thinking that he just doesn't remember. After all, Obama's problems have been all over Fox News, I can't believe he could have missed them.

McCain, the change we deserve? The change we've been getting for the past 8 years. Sorry, no thanks. I want a refund on the past eight years, not the change I'm looking for.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I suck

On the way home a new character entered my life. Another one of the colorful inhabitants (although a transient) of Windwept, Ohio. He's here for the storm. It took three decades to come, but Jedediah knows patience, hobbling here and there on his dowsing rod/cane. Old Ben Yoder has shown up for the story, and, unlike most of my stories, I think I know most of it and what happens.

The story started coming to me as I was driving home. Once home I had to go to meetings, but I typed some of it out inbetween meetings, and now I was starting to put more in and tell the tale.

(here starts the traditional writer lament) Man, I suck. This is crap. Oh sure, it looks cool in my head, but once it's words on iron filings, it's crap. So horrible, it makes me want to edit it constantly. I've used this set up before (guys sitting around a table). I'm repeating myself. "Ironwood tree" oh please. Can I be more repetitive? I can't write. I suck. (end lament, maybe)

So, some four-hundred words in and I'm ready to throw in the towel. Except that I think it's a neat story. Sure, general trope of fountain of youth in a lightning rod (can you tell I've read a lot of Ray Bradbury), not much conflict, except Ben Yoder trying to save his friend, when his friend doesn't want to be saved. My guess is that it'll not be more than 4000 words. Which is good. Shorter stories have a better chance of selling (if you believe that advice).

Another old timer introduced himself, Gyre Kelly. Not sure what he's going to be (other than a soy farmer). Jed's gotta find someone with a corn field and the proper crystal sub-soil formations to work his magic, but after a few decades in the town I think he's already lined up where he's going in the storm tonight.

Old men having coffee in the Three Corners Bar (also doubles as coffee house and restaurant with somewhat decent food). Maybe it'll work. If only I could write.

"It's going to be one of those storms."

They all knew what kind of storm he meant. The kind that comes once in a century. Where you hole up for the duration, then come out the next day to gather in the dead.

That sucks. Here's what separates the wanna-bees from those that make it. I'm still going to work on it to try and make it work. I'll edit it, hammer it, reforge it, temper it, and put it in a headlock until I can make it sing.

Story Bones

I find that story ideas can be anywhere. The Sheepherder's Ball: Hidden Basque Kitchens I suggest listening to the audio for the full effect.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Summer Ear Extravaganza

Oh sure, you may think this is an extended Toyota Sell-a-thon (which, really, they don't need to do this year), but it's not. It's something better.

Those crazy cats over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing have a big summer planned including interviewing the instructors for this year's Clarion including Kelly Link, James Patrick Kelly, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Neil Gaiman, Nalo Hopkinson, and Geoff Ryman. Very cool. Can't wait to hear them.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Various Writing Thoughts

The Journal of Mythic Arts, which was an excellent source of commentary and research, is closing up shop. The Journal was there for me just at the right moment as my writing was switching from SF to more Fantasy. I haven't had the time to read all the recent issues (especially since they went to the blog style of publication), but fortunately they say they'll keep the archive online.

Jay Lake, who IMHO is a BNA, talks about the little green monster. It's refreshing to know that it isn't just us wanna-bees. I know a number of authors that I like hanging around with, joking with, drinking with, whom I'm exceedingly jealous of. Fortunately, that jealously drives me on to do better. It's not the kind that makes me resent the other writers for their success (publishing wise, financially wise, and story telling wise.

Finished listening to Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box. Okay, I'm going to take back the earlier hate statement and say I hate him. What a friggin' good book. It took me a long time to listen to it 1) not exactly work-safe, 2) genuinely disturbing, 3) just in general being distracted by other bright shiny objects. Several excellent twists, although there is the child-molester aspect in the book (tiresome trope in horror, but he makes it work here), and just good writing (and good audio book acting). I have to say, of the various horror writers out there, Joe Hill is becoming my favorite.

The myth of writer suffering is crap. When I go to my doctor appointment I am going to talk about drugs because I do not want to live this way and not be writing. I started this whole journey before the last big depression. I did write during that time (of the last big depression), but my output was less. Over the past two and a half years before this past January I was on a production roll. I was happy. The old job (which did not help if not being the main cause of the depression) dragged me down, and I was glad to be beyond it. While there is writing since January (the vast majority, like 95%+ has been non-fiction), I want to be writing fiction. The depression isn't helping. Small epiphanies as I tried figuring out why I was so productive the last two years and not so much this year.

Busy Weekend

After two days of hard work (afternoon Friday, Saturday, and this morning) the garage is somewhat cleaned out and more organized. With our upbringing both Bette and I are hoarders. Sure, there's better names for it, but we tend to buy for the long term, buy on sale, and store up for the lean times. This past spring things got a little out of control as our storage strategy wasn't up to our needs. So now we've replaced our metal shelves that we strained under the loads with our wooden bookcases that we replaced with the shelving units. Now we only have one prefab bookcase inside the house and that one is probably here to stay. Most of the dry goods are up. This summer is going to be a lean time (Bette doesn't have a class this summer, overtime is down, the cost of everything is up), so it's good we're stocked up.

I also finally went through all the office detritus from my former job, that only took three and a half years. It wasn't all of it (much of it has already been gone through), but it was the last two boxes. It was mostly design magazines, which will be recycled. There were a few monitor toys/decorations, most of those will go to the thrift shops. There were a few technical manuals I've been limping along without (do you know the size of an A2 or #9 Remittance Envelope by heart?).

Right now things are tight but workable. Lots of plans we had are put on hold. We had a discussion about Viable Paradise, and I'm not sure we would be able to afford it this year. I don't have enough of the novel (and as Tobias once told me, he learned the hard way not to workshop an unfinished novel), but I have enough short stories in shape to apply. Part of me thinks that if writing is what you want to do, go ahead and go for it, figure out how to pay for it later. The other "I'm a survivor" part says that if the money isn't there, or it doesn't look likely, save the money for better things, get to writing the novel, and go next year when you can workshop the novel (maximize the investment). So in a week, I might just apply this year, and then see if something changes by July 15th (when the money is do) to see if I even would be accepted. This year's guest instructors are a great line up.

Plans for conventions are down. I'll probably only be going to two this year (Confluence and Confusion). We still want to have some sort of vacation (after more that two decades of being together, we would like to have our vacation count go high enough that would would need both hands to count).

The day job last week was more "normal", but that was mostly because of one client making revisions to stationary. Plate count is down, but I think some of the other work product is up. Still not anywhere near last year's work. The village stuff is absorbing more time, but I don't get OT for that. Before going to bed it's what I'm thinking about, when I wake up I'm still working through issues.