There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Playing to Lose

Nobody show Janice Murphy or Jim Wright this story.They might blow a gasket. I know I nearly did.

Seems that some soldiers in upstate NY were actually able to get listed as disabled and strangely enough then got medical and other care that was promised to them. Well, we can't have that. So the Army dispatched a Tiger Team (business consultants in uniform) to find out just what the heck was happening. Turns out the helpful people at the VA were assisting those soldiers in their applications so that they would say the proper things in the proper ways on the proper forms to qualify for the assistance they need. Notice that nobody, anywhere, is saying the VA told soldiers to lie, or to misrepresent their injuries and disabilities. But then that means the Army and the Pentagon would actually have to (I debated about making this family friendly, I decided not to) fucking do the honorable thing and pay to help these soldiers. So the Tiger Team instructed (without actual authorization or, apparently, without legal standing) the VA to cease and desist and the VA complied. Spineless

If it had been me, I would have told the Tiger Team, their Adjunct or commanding offer, and their base/team commander on the proper forms, with the proper decorum, and in no uncertain terms, exactly what they could do with that order. Let's just say it would be obscenely biological.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Old Miskatonic U

One of the people I introduced myself to at Confusion was William Jones. Bill is an editor for some magazines I've submitted to, and from the panels I saw him in he seemed like a cool guy, so when I had a chance I went up and said, "Hi, I'm Joeblow Neo-pro and I just wanted to introduce myself..." . One of the things I like doing after meeting people is to look and see if they have a blog, and sure enough, he's got one. He is also running a contest for blog posts about ol' MU. It's a Lovecraft/Cthulhu/Horror thing. So, if any of those writerly people I know out there are looking to scratch a particular itch they maybe having, high thee hence and get a blog posting.

Oh, and for my entry, I only rewrote it twice. Fairly quick for my work, but I wanted to keep that raw blog post feel. If I rewrote it again I think I would have started to smooth it out too much (I already had to stop myself on the second rewrite).

The Love You Take

This will be GW's last State of the Union speech. So begins the end.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stimulus like a cattle-prod

So, the gubermint wants to give us all some money. Sometime in May. And then you have to pay it back April 2009 (or at least pay taxes on it).

This is like those checks the Discover people keep sending me. Don't need, don't want, please don't do this again. See, they did this back in the early Bush presidency, you know, when people liked him. Remember how pissed you were that the check you got turned out to be an advance on the next year's refund. How those of us didn't get such large refunds anyway because of tax reforms in the 90s made recurring refunds of that amount somewhat punishable to stop people form using the IRS as a defacto savings plan then had to pay back the majority of it as well as pay taxes on the "income." Good times.

And now there is talk of how the exact stimulus we need is to make the tax cuts that expire in 2010 permanent. Yeah, that's gonna help. Presidential hopeful J. McCain said that this will help with families planning their 2010 budgets now. That sound you heard? That was the last scrap of respect I had for the man die a screaming death.

You know what might have helped the economy? I don't know, maybe not wasting spending all our treasure and our kids' treasure on a war of choice. And maybe not allowing the free money giveaway reconstruction debacle no-bid contracts and graft (no, I'm not going to scratch that out) of money in Iraq (note, this was a way of rewarding political hacks who had to apply for their passports before going to Iraq but where hired as "professional" state building contractors). Money given away without even the simple control of having to sign for it.

So, they're gonna give us about $600. Woohoo! I think I'll probably do what most people did last time, bank it or pay off debt.

The administration is a one trick pony. Economy is good, we need tax cuts. Economy is bad, we need tax cuts. Economy is so so, we need tax cuts. Need a stimulus, give them tax cuts. Need to slow down the economy, more tax cuts. One size doesn't fit all.

Because the Sky Is Blue

First off, it's damn bright outside. I normally don't notice, but as I walked by a window (I can't see one from where I work, I have to go visiting) I was nearly blinded by the sunshine reflecting off the snow and salt encrusted road. Need to get out of here on-time today to squint my enjoyment about it being sunny. Those of you from other parts of the country may be thinking, "What's he going on about?" In NE Ohio, what would be a partly cloudy day to you all, is an enormously bright clear day to us. No, really. I did a photo project in art school on clouds. I had to wait days for most shots so you could see individual cloud formations and constellations. Mostly we just have overcast and measure our sunshine in liquid inches.

Secondly, epiphany from the clear skies. Sclazi's new cat must be farting lighting bolts, 'cause one just struck me. I've been thinking about my writing (and editing stories), and how to get the word count down. Then there was a comment by Matt Jarpe (who, BTW is blogging about strategies for marketing his book, what worked or not) in the "Plot" panel about versilimitude ("Real life is no excuse for poor fiction," Mary Turzillo once said about a plot point I had). After the panel I questioned Matt about his comment (you can see my note about it in the scan I made of my notebook). I work hard to make the supernatural feel real in my stories and I thought he was trashing all over that. Turns out that he wasn't, it's just we don't need to hear about the character's bathroom activities or "broccoli in the teeth" moments unless they're relevant to the story/plot.

So I've been thinking about a passage in "My Favorite War Stories" where the SEAL tosses a flash-bang (grenade), but I describe his instructions to the others in the team in detail. Well, it's what happened (in my head) and I thought it was grippy detail, real bring the reader in, let them know what's happening. See, no-longer-neo-pro author Tobias Buckell sometimes skips things. I'm reading his stuff, and then something happens that makes me go, "wait a sec, where/when the heck did that change/appear/happen?" So I go back, thinking I just went brain dead from sleep deprivation and missed a crucial piece of info only to find that he hadn't included it. So I tend to include it in my stories.

Now I'm listening to Stephen King's On Writing (which I do from time to time, it's on the iPod) and he's talking about using adverbs and his theory that the newbie writer uses them because of fear. The fear that they're not going to be understood by the reader.


Suddenly it all starts to make sense.

Yes, I over-describe because I'm afraid my readers won't know just what the heck is going on (an early and persistent critique of my writing). I can shorthand, I don’t' have to describe every fart in the bathroom (okay, I never went that far). It's a liberating thought. It really is. I stopped the iPod right there to let it sink in.

I can just say, "He used his hands to tell us what he was going to do," and then get into the action.

There's a weight off.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another Sale for Camille

That little birdie is kickin' some antho booty. And Hadley Rille Books is a happening place for some interesting fiction with that Eric Reynolds guy doing the editing thing.

Obviously I'm in the wrong job, again

What the hell is up with plumbers (and other trades)? Is there a dearth of such people and a glut of work that they just don't need any more work so they feel it's okay to piss off their customers? Seriously.

So you all know I've been trying to get a water heater. Yes, it's still not there. I choose Sears for both the supplier and as the contractor. Now, from what I understand, Sears subcontracts the actual installation. Fair enough. My contract, though, is with Sears. If I have a problem, that's who I'm going to. What their deal is with their subcontractor, as long as they meet minimum professional standards (if they don't, his reflects on Sears, not so much their subcontractor, IMHO) and follow the work actually contracted (I'm assuming there are three-ring binders involved).

The initial subcontractor has cancelled our order twice. No call, they just cancelled it. So we're going through a different Sears Store to see if their subcontractor really wants to work.

I'm almost to the point of demanding that first subcontractor's name so I can go to their shop and give them the raspberry in person. Right now, it's too much work to do that.

Right now, I was supposed to have the tank installed tomorrow, it's now looking like next week. Maybe. Thankfully this isn't an emergency install.

This one will get a letter going to Sears' headquarters.

Edit Just talked with the contractor out of the Warren Sears and he seems like a good guy. We're scheduled for Friday, Feb 1st (because of ordering the tank, it's not your everyday tank, 50gal power vent).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Those Notes

Just some corrections. It was during the panel for "Plot." I've cut off the chart I made, just because there's things there I don't want to share (but there were also edits to the opener and the Act titles). The person quoting Homer would have been Violette Malan (who chaired the panel). From the top down the notes were attributable to Jim Hines, Jim Hines again, I think the next one is Violette Malan (but it could have been William Jones), and the last one was from Matt Jarpe. Also, I made the conversation more erudite and understandable to someone not in my head.

So there it is, horrible penmanship and misspellings (note to self: get pen with spell check). Aren't you glad I type these blog posts? I used to have good handwriting, then I started typing for most things. Heck, I used to be able to hand draw typefaces (and I still do sometimes, as a "I'm bored" exercise). Computers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I saw the ocean's daughter, walking on a wave's chicane, staring as she called my name

One of the questions (I'm told) authors get all the time is "Do I need/Where can I get an agent?"

Don't think so, but it helps, and I have no idea. Ask me once I'm a published novelist.

The other question they get is "Where do you get your ideas?"

Don't think so, but it helps, and I have no idea. :) Okay, really, this is where we (we, ha!) get all mystical or existential to baffle the uninitiated while we attempt to escape by gnawing off whatever limb is trapped.

It's almost, but not entirely unlike riding a bike. Good enough? No? Okay.

Sometimes, in hind sight, you can see, "Well, I put together this, that, and the other obscure piece of information, mixed well while listening to Rush's Farewell to Kings and out of the oven popped this baby."

That's also BS. It's really Pink Floyd's Animals, but don't tell anybody else I told ya.

Another thing some people are doing is giving their notes for Confusion, or "What I did on my Winter Vacation."

This all makes sense, trust me. Okay, well, enough sense that surrounds how at least I get ideas.

So, I'm listening to a panel at Confusion, "Evolving as a SF Writer" I think (I'll check my notes when I get home). I'm taking notes dutifully (you do take notes at panels, right? Try to pick the fruit out of the air as the panelists throw it out there, like a bad vaudeville show in reverse) when all of a sudden.

"Hey, Steve, I've got this idea," comes the Muse a knocking.

"Um, I'm kinda busy right at the moment," I whisper as softly as possible, so the people sitting next to me won't think I'm a fruitcake.

"Sure, no problem, I've been thinking about a vacation, say to Brittany, Might stay a few decades there."

I make a bunch of mental hand-waving gestures. "Okay, okay, what have ya got?"

"You know when Sarah Zettel was just talking about how the Illiad starts with 'I sing the wrath of Achilles'? Well, I was thinking that this novel wasn't so much, 'The Post-Rapture romantic comedy for the rest of us,' but was more, 'Casablanca in the Raptured World, but Rick gets Ilsa in the end, mix with the whole Eurydice thing.' Write that down."

"But, Steve and Rachel make it out together."

"It's good, trust me, write it down."

To appease my Muse, I write it down in the upper margin. "Still doesn't make much sense, there's no Nazis or Vichey, and didn't Orpheus look back and lose Eurydice?"

"Sure, but hey, that makes your opener, 'I sing the end of days and the start of love. Fill my sails, Muse, and guide me to the thrashing shore.'" (that last part was more like 15 minutes of hashing about)

"Okay, hey, that's cool," I say writing it down. "Not exactly good, but I like it. I still don't understand the Casablanca part, though."

"Don't worry, we can work on it. And then we can make the quote for Act 2 'Is this the face that launched a thousand road trips?'"

"There's the Illiad," I say, scribbling that down as I'm slowly disassociating from the panel discussion and the notes I'm taking on that. "Okay, so we have three acts in the book. What's the other two openers?"

"Act 3, yeah, this is good, 'There and back again, with occasional music'." Her smile I can feel all the way down to my toes. ('Occasional Music' came later)

"Not bad, not very Greek," I've made a little chart on the side of the page to put in the data that's going to come piece meal.

"I didn't say it was all Greek. Hey, and then the end piece is, 'They lived, happily.'"

"Good, I wouldn't want it to be a fairy tale. Well, too much of a fairy tale."

"Don't worry, I'll steer you clear of that. And, oh, wait, I forgot the Casablanca part. The opener should be, 'I sing the end of days and the start of a beautiful friendship.'"

"That's excellent," I say, scribbling out notes and writing that in. "What about Act 1?"

"Don't push me. I can go to Mont St. Michel. It's nice this time of century," she folds her arms and glares at my brain.

"Okay, okay. It's just a hole here on my chart. And St. Michel is in Normandy anyway."

"It's still in France, just up the coast. And I'd come back with muddy footprints. Don't worry, we'll get that Act 1 quote. But I like what we have so far. That's good enough for now."

At that point the panel concluded and I had to look like I wasn't talking to myself as people started to mill around and shuffled in and out.

So there it is. We're all bat-shit crazy and hearing voices in our heads. Happy enough? Now, excuse me, I need to go get a new tin-foil hat.

Do they still make tin-foil? Or is it all aluminum foil? Oh wait, that gives me another idea...

Duck and Cover

The Fed has cut two key interest rates by three-quarters of a percent to 3.5% this morning, before the market opens.

Oh, this is going to be a very bad day. I have a feeling my Story Bone this morning was prescient. The global markets have been going down the past two days.

This one might hurt. Everybody hang on to something. When the roller-coaster is going down, the best thing to do is scream and enjoy the ride.

Edit 10:55am DJI opened at 400+ down, has recovered somewhat to only being down 266 points (about 2.2%). I don't know about volume. Everybody glad we didn't shift our Social Security funds to the stock market? Bueller? Bueller?

Edit 2:10pm DJI is hanging below -100 points, so it looks like the rate cut had the desired effect. A bad day, but not very bad. I still haven't seen reports on volume (which for the past three weeks had been heavy).

Story Bone

I didn't get the hint that with all the slow drivers on the roads that nobody wanted to be at work, turn around, go home, crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow. With all the traffic deciding to slouch toward jobs, I clocked in a half-hour late. That was to be the high point of the day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Burning Chrome

Life imitates fiction. We're living in a William Gibson world. Glommed from the last mil blog in my RSS feed, Defense Tech.

Also ::cough::power outage that took out the Great Lakes grid a couple of years ago::cough::. Just saying.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Story Bone

Driving back in the cold from Detroit several smokestacks were belching out great steam clouds. Brick and metal constructions, monuments to the new gods of industry.

Smokestacks pouring out burnt offerings to new gods. What kind of gods would be accepting of this kind of ambrosia? What dark force are we building? What elder gods would devour such offerings?

Somewhat confusing thoughts, but I'm really tired. Maybe I can clarify it tomorrow.

Back Home

What a weekend. Way, so, very, too much to talk about. I need sleep.

Couldn't get the free wifi to work, so I couldn't post form the con like I planned. But on the plus side, the programming was so great that I didn't have much down time to have written posts.

Didn't sleep much.

Thanks to everybody who put up with me. So much good news, not much for me (only a little), but I got to see some fabu-frickin'-tastic things happen to others. Once they talk about it (if they do, they might not) I'll link to it. But it's their story to tell.

Met people, renewed friendships, got to know people better.

Didn't sleep. More later

Friday, January 18, 2008

Catching Up with Backlog - Links!

First off, semi-frequent commenter and Dangerous Dad Dan sends this link about using a robot as a catapult (actually a trebuchet). With flaming bowling balls no less. Lots of photos and videos.

Fellow Dilettante Level Writer Todd Wheeler is having another contest. I won last time and I can tell you Todd gives great prizes. I'm using my book-light every night. All you have to do is enter to win. How much easier can he make it?

Jeff VanderMeer is talking about the process of novel writing. I haven't made it all the way through (it's a bigg'un), but so far it's a very good read. With his description of his progress early in his career, I'm not feeling so inadequate anymore (spending six-months on a short-story, yep, that's about right).

Forgot to mention here that all around hoopy frood Tobias Buckell's latest novel, Ragamuffin, is getting the attention it deserves with a nomination for a Nebula.

And lots of my cool friends are on panels on Confusion. This weekend should be a blast. (FWIW, I'm still over 217 posts I haven't read, and I've been skipping a lot).

Counting the minutes

I am so looking forward to this weekend. No pressure on everyone that I'll be seeing there, but if I'm drinking heavily, just understand it isn't because of you. This is one of those weeks where the thought of my Dad's drinking comes back to me as a warning not to. I might ignore that for this weekend. One of my business phrases is "Time to start drinking heavily." I'm am looking forward to having a fun time, and if drink is the way, I can accept that right now.

Most of you know I don't drink to excess. For one, I like expensive beers and I can't afford to drink them like that.

A slight miracle has occurred, my laptop now gets about fifty minutes out of the battery before needing recharged (after a week of reconditioning), so I do have it with me.

It's going to be be the coldest weekend of the year, and I'm going to drive into the teeth of it. Woohoo!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go axe a laser printer.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Morning Monitor's Coffee Wash

This video over at Camille's place nails it. If you're a writer who has received a rejection letter, go and bask in living vicariously through a cartoon.

Note to editors, I personally don't feel this way, but have heard that others do, so I appreciate the humor. :)

Or, who hasn't had these thoughts and really wanted to write such a missive?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Order Placed - Now We wait

Water heater issues will soon be solved. Tonight I was able to leave (heck, I cut out after an hour and a half of overtime) and got the water heater ordered. Should be in next Wednesday and installed on the 25th.

I went with the fifty-gallon tank. Overall, it isn't the lowest quote, but it's still about $500 less than the original quote. Total package, including extended service plan, is $920. Some of you may be saying, "Whoa, for a hot water tank. That ridiculously high, dude." Well, it's a power vent (double your normal water heater price) for the horizontal venting, and a tight installation area. Also, I'm upgrading the tank form 40 to 50-gallons. The Sears tank (Kenmore) has a few features I like. It has 1" of insulation built-in, it's size fits better than some other tanks, the glass lining is slightly better, heavy anode rod, and the cold water intake is designed to stir the tank bottom to break up any sediment and flush it out.

So hopefully you'll all stop hearing me complain about the water tank RSN (real soon now).

And as everybody know who owns a house, it never ends. This summer we might have some other book cases installed, nothing like last summer's installation. A lot less than last summer. We've also priced wood-burners, that might be a possibility. And we have a lot of concrete work that needs to be done (which I would put ahead of the wood-burner).

Symptom of Exhaustion

Just reading comments and realizing just how bad my keyboarding skills are. Typos galore. Sorry about that folks, I'll try and double proof my comments and catch some of those.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lurker-fu Extends

As I left work, the RSS counter was approaching 400.

I don't think I'll be able to get a new laptop battery by this weekend, so I'll be leaving the laptop home (as there was no WiFi in the rooms, only in the lobby). Unless something weird happens between now and Thursday night, that's the plan. So I'm sorry but it doesn't look like I'll be doing the from the floor con reports.

My main priority between now and then is to get to the Sears store to get the water heater ordered. Yeah, I could probably do it over the phone, but I've got a small gift card I want to use up, and there's a couple of questions I want to have a sales person in front of me for. The questions will determine either the 50 or 40 gallon tank.

With the MacWorld keynote, iTouch is getting closer to what I want. The Mac Air looks nice (and 60+gig SSD Hard Drive - YEEHAW!, but such a price), but I like my optical drive and use it a lot. Damn water heater, taking up all my money (well, that and taxes, property taxes, gas, etc, and oh yeah, the excellent shelves we installed). although on the plus side, I do have almost 8 hours of overtime for this week already. That's gotta create some spending dough.

Still tired from yesterday. My eyes are drooping and it's only 9:20pm. Getting old is a bitch. I recommend you don't do it.

Rest of Photos

Here's the back wall of my office. All those shelves are adjustable, which helps because I go from mass-market paperback to oversized art books. On the right-hand side, those shelves are less deep to allow the closet door to open properly, and the selves are perfect for paperbacks. I still have some books in boxes (and I need to finish arranging the books).

Then you have the Xmas Decorations at night. First, we're looking back from the mailbox (blue lights) with the Snowman and his drunken brothers, the deer, star (new!) and a river of ropelights.

Here we are looking out from the house and can see some of my neighbor's display as well.

Those Photos I Promised - somewhat

Well, at least with the faster connection here at work, it bombs out faster (or I notice it faster).

Here are two images of the downstairs bookcase installation (with books and nick-nacks). Nope, this isn't all the books my wife has (there are some assemble yourself bookcase out of frame, and several more boxes out in the shed), but it's a good start.

This is looking toward the front of the house.

And this is looking toward the back door.

Once blogger wants to accept more photos, I have the upstairs office bookcases (mine!) and the outdoor decorations at night.

The Call of Chaucer

All around hoopy frood Todd Wheeler has come up with an interesting concept, the Writer RPG, complete with skill levels and experience points.

Now, I do have a disagreement with some points (if you're writing, you're a writer, do you need external validation? Neo-pro and Pro have definitions that aren't related to word count, etc) but over all I think it's a fun idea. Of course, I'm on the look out for Bracers AC0 against Editorial Rejection, and I think he also needs to develop a Saving Throw table (roll d20 against your Wit to stave off a relative who thinks you're engaging in "Mental Masturbation"). There also needs to be magical items, a +3 Word Processor Spell Checker for instance (it can tell you the word your really meant to put there, not just spell check the homophone you typed). Or maybe a Magical Scroll Contract with +5 Exposure and full resale rights. There could also be Cursed Items, such a Publish America Iron-Clad Contract, -5 on Querying Agents and Publishers.

Ha ha, yes, my vorpal sword does snicker and snack, thank you very much.

He's also looking for a good name for it. The title of this post is my suggestion. What's yours?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Amateur Week Continues for Second Week

MARGLE! Plagued by amateurs at my day job. Seriously, I'm ready to start collecting heads/scalps. I would go into it all, but lets just say after trying to beat us up on price, all the amateurs out there drive it up with stupid crap that we covered in Design 101. Hello!

Sorry for the partial rant, but 13+ hours because of AMATEURS!

Gotta water the machine and go home (no, that's not a euphemism).

What's worse is that the forecast for the rest of this week doesn't seem much better. And I was hoping to rest up before Confusion. MARGLE!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Aborted Post and Weekend Work

Well, as you all know I'm a little slow with posting photos I talk about. I'm going to try and catch up with this post.

(insert elevator music here)

Well, after trying for a half hour, blogger seems to be having issues with upload photos. I'll have to try at work tomorrow.

This weekend we did a lot. We invited our neighbors over to dinner and so they could see what we have done the past few years to update the house. Yes, in a small town, people worry about this stuff. Our neighbors have been here since before the house was built, and they and others tell me about them wandering around the place as it was being constructed. It's a thing. After the obligatory nickel tour, Bette made a nice dinner, and we played Trivial Pursuit until late.

Even though everybody we wanted over hadn't seen our decorations, we took down the tree and miscellaneous interior decorations. Xmas is all over. In the afternoon it started raining, and then snowing. Temperatures are dropping back into normal territory, just in time for me to drive to Detroit.

Next weekend is Confusion, and anybody there just say hi. I plan to be doing a lot of it myself. There are plenty of people I know going, people I like hanging out with, and plenty of people I've met over the year that I'd like to meet in person. I would create a list, but I know I'd be leaving someone off (right now I'm thinking, OMG, I forgot Karl Schroeder's wife's name - Karl's blog, because he's rolled his own, doesn't have an RSS feed so it's hard to follow - wait, just saw a link to that, I'll have to update). Plus, there's pirates, and they give candy (note to self, make sure my Pirate Tao shirt is good to go).

Between now and then, I've got a week of work, I need to get to Sears to work out the details of the water heater and hopefully have it installed on Friday, one meeting which is early, I need to cut my hair (it's comb-able, not good as this short it has a tendency to go all Flock of Seagulls on me), and I've now got three major projects at work (two that I left, one I know arrived just as I left), there's also the possibility of one more big project (I'm getting a headache just thinking out the coordination it'll need). So, busy week, and then a weekend where I'm probably not going to sleep.

Oh, and I just found out that my laptop has a battery life of about 20 minutes. Gotta fix that.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lurking in the Woods

Well, as the week progressed, my Luker-Fu increased. Sure, there were momentary lapses of reason during the week, the gnomish humor on Making Light, the occasional comment on Whatever, some other comments sprinkled about. Though, really, it wasn't all that much. The RSS count tonight when I left was north of 275, most of that cutting has been do to the fact that Jay Lake has been less effluent as of late, and I cut out both Cherie Priests webpage mirror (all of the commenting is on her LJ from what I can tell) and Dave Kletcha's LJ (I usually comment on his website, although I think his LJ gets more comments, so I might switch) which mirrors his own website.

If feels strange and somewhat disconcerting to see that high of a number. It also bothers me that I haven't been able to keep up.

Just some numbers from this week; we broke back over 10 hours of overtime, also 227 plates at the day job, I also left two major projects undone at work, two meetings and an oil change, and about 350 new words on Sean and the Moon. The week also started with resubmitting Rag-a-Bag after a rejection. I've selected the vendor and type of waterheater, but I couldn't get back in to buy it (okay, tonight I could have, but have you ever felt the "I just want to go home" desire, yeah, big time after work tonight). Plus, now we can only have it installed on Fridays. So, ordering it on Monday shouldn't hurt.

Hope you all had a better week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Vote Early (and Often)

My favorite Littlebird, Camille, has picked up a nod in Preditors & Editors Poll. One of her stories, The Clone-Wrangler's Bride, has been nominated for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story of 2007.

You can read the story and vote from the links above. I encourage doing both.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Lurkertude Extends Its Long Reach

Despite Nathan's delusional in the wild sighting of wide-eyed comments I've made on other blogs, my lurker qualifications continue to grow. Even after dumping about 15 RSS feeds at work, when I left this afternoon my count of blogposts that I haven't read (RSS feeds are da-bomb) stood north of 350 posts. Granted, probably Jay Lake's blog and Cherie Priest's two blogs account for most of that, with Jeff VanderMeer bringing up close third (Jeff's only in third because he only has one blog, now if I included all the reviews he posts, he'd be giving Jay a run for his money). So while it may look like I'm out there, galavanting around, obviously I'm a slacker.

Also, I think Jeff should hang in there until the S. Carolina primary where he should do well... oh, wait, that's something else.

Speaking of Jeff, via Jay Lake, Mr. VanderMeer has been telling tales out of school. Expect the emotional, "I don't give a **** about the Hugos, I'm just here to clear my name, listen to this illegally recorded telephone conversation with my former Publish America agent" press conference in two weeks, right before the Congressional Hearings.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another Sale (for another writer)!

See what happens, I go into lurker mode and Ken McConnell goes off and sells a story. Congrats, Ken. And major congrats for convincing Eric Reynolds (two Nebula nods for his anthos, that guy has got to be doing something right) to open up another antho to include your story in it (sure, there were other authors, but that's not how I would tell the story). You all should go gush good feelings at Ken. Good show, dude.

Oh, and talking about Ken and gushing good feelings at other authors, Ken points us all over to a good post by Jim Van Pelt on writing. I've sinned against number 2 and I need to learn 6a more often.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Opening up the mind of the writer

Joshua Palmatier is doing it again. He writes about having to work something out and the writer's mind.

Been there... although maybe this ties into my comments about Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End. That some scene existed for the sole purpose of getting one character in position to have a different scene. Hmm, thinking on the fly here. I had a major problem with that, and thought a rewrite to exclude those scenes, or explain them better would have been a better solution.

Not that I think Josh's writing is bad. No, I'm thinking about my own writing here. Do I have scene that's sole purpose is to position characters to have some other dramatic scene? Or are some of my transitions just a weak as those scenes in the movie? Yet another thing to think about as I'm writing.

And why after I say I'm going to be more absent have I posted three times today? That one at least is easy. I'm procrastinating from writing.

Rejection from Oz

Rag-a-Bag has been at Andromeda Spaceways for longer than the three months they asked for. I did have high hopes, but I just received the best-est rejection email ever from Robbie Matthews. Robbie said that they liked it, but just hadn't been able to find a place for it. Fair cop. They didn't want to keep holding onto it and so they "have to very reluctantly let this one go." Excellent rejection letter, and I sent an email thanking Robbie for it.

So now it's off to Abyss and Apex who have also been very excellent to me. After all, I drank their hooch at World Fantasy.

When people ask me where I'm at being a writer, I tell them that I now collect the nicest rejection letters.

Also, today has been spent rereading Sean and the Moon. There's been some nit-picky edits, but I'm pretty please with it so far. I've been going through my loose note pages to make sure all the ideas have made it in. I need to retype the sex scene and make it more like some notes on scrap paper I have, and then work it to a finish. There's very little tension in the story. Most of it so far is between Zeke (aka Sean) and his Dad and the confusion Zeke has as he figures out "the little red hair girl" Cynthia is also the Moon. I'm not sure that's enough, and it feels vignette-y, but we'll see what happens. Right now I feel very rusty.

Lurker Mode, Activate!

(that should be said in the same voice as "Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!")

Here I am announcing what's basically been going on for a month now, I'm going more into lurker mode. There's so many great blogs to read, I barely have enough time to read them all in my RSS feeds folder. So, rest assured I'm still reading all your great posts, and as much as I'd like to respond to each one, I just don't have the time. At work things are going totally bonkers, and I don't have much time to keep up there (there are many 3 minute lags waiting for apps to load, or plates to come out, that I was able to read and comment on blogs, those opportunities have been shrinking). Even with trying to make up time at home (which I should be writing during that time) I haven't been able to keep up. And I need to get more time into writing. There's this book that's going stale and I must get it all out before it completely goes.

Heck, on Making Light I've hardly posted three comments this past December, and that's where I got into posting comments. I've been very absent on the Whatever (and have intentionally stayed away from the E just because of the time needed to go through all that). As I'm sure you've all seen on your own blogs that my comment frequency has been dropping off.

As you've also seen I've gone from posting thrice a day, to maybe one every other day. It's not been fun for me. There's been great conversations I've wanted to be a part of (the party gadfly or resident lunatic that I am), but by the time I get into thread, and am able to post my comment, the conversation has wondered to far away from the topic. Sigh.

I've been dropping many of the blogs that I used to just read, and there's only a few of those I'll be keeping (like Writer Beware and Endicott). So if I've commented on your blog, I'm still reading, I just may not be commenting very often. Tobias might be glad of that. For a long time I've had the highest comment count over there. So most of the military blogs and tech blogs will be going. I might keep some, but not really read their entries (I have hopes that time will open back up soon). All of the writer blogs (fellow writers, editors, agents, advice columns, etc) will be staying.

Now with being on more committees and having more responsibility (which I shirked this past week, and I can't do that for much longer) I'm also feeling the time crunch at home. I've also been wondering why I haven't gotten this damn water heater fixed (yes, it's still there) and it's only because of mental energy. Today I must go measure and choose a contractor to replace it.

The end of all this, is things probably won't be changing much from where I'm at now. I'll still be reading and occasionally commenting, but I'll be lurking more. Posts here will be less than last year at this time (probably maintain and one every day or every other day). I'll still post comments on you all's blogs when I can.

Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tried the iTouch

After this mornings festivities concerning our new collective bargaining contract, I found myself on the far side of Cleveland. So I stopped by the Apple Store on the way back and checked out the new iTouch.

It's a nice bit of kit, and could be something of a great tool, except Apple has crippled it too much. Can't install new widgets, can access the internal memory like a hard drive, and no bluetooth (iPhone has it, but is strictly for headphones, no keyboards). So, for how I would want to use it, mostly worthless. Sure, it's fun to surf, fun to use actually, but if I can't use it as a laptop substitute, not worth it.

The internal keyboard was neat, although it took up most of the screen and was a little too small. After about 5 minutes I was using it okay-ish. So probably with more practice I could write short emails, blog posts, or comments.

Apple, if you're listening, please add bluetooth, open bluetooth (at least for keyboards). Open up to downloading new widgets. And allow access from the device to the RAM like a disk drive. Add to that a widget that can serve as a text editor, and I'll snap one up. Probably the top model. iPhone isn't for me, little Orwell gets sucky cell service, and $60 a month to use it feels like usury.

Until then, too pricey for what I'd get, and unusable for what I want.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Benefits of Working Late

You get to hear different radio shows, like last night's Fresh Air interview with David Cay Johnston about his book Free Lunch. If you've ever thought that the government is too corporate friendly, but just couldn't put your finger on how and why, here's the book that lays it all out for you.

I'm checking my library to see if they have a copy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Village Thing

Last night we had our organizational meeting for the Village. This is when we decide who is going to serve on what committee or as a liaison, who will be the chairs of the committees, etc.

I've also been psyching myself up to get more writing done in the new year. With the help of the Mayor I've been able to keep the time spent on Council Work down, although it's been a major part of my head space, especially these past two months.

There, that's a synopsis. And then things go from bad to worse.

Last last year one of our fellow councilmen suffered a stroke. He's healing up well (from what we understand), but he still isn't back to being able to get about and serve. He was also one of my fellow chairmen.

Can you see where this is going?

On the plus side, I'm no longer Chairman of Streets, Lands and Buildings. Don't get me wrong, I liked serving in that capacity. I like our Village Employee(s). I think we did some good, but I'm glad for the relief of responsibility. I'm still a member of the committee, but now I get to give advice, instead of making policy and direction. Hopefully that would clear up some head space and energy. However, still serving on the committee means an equal number of monthly meetings.

And then there's the other thing. I'm still a chairman. Only now I'm chairman of Safety (which means the Police and Fire Departments). Safety has two meetings a month. And the reason for that seems a good one, but maybe I can convince people to merge them back together. I can't say more than that.

Cycle repeats.

I've been involved with the Safety Committee, and have had talks with the Chiefs more than once, but I've never served on the committee. Now I'm chair. Oh boy.

Cycle repeats.

There are a few controversies involving the Safety Committee right at the moment. Well, controversy isn't the word. Contention, individual upset, bruhaha, those might be better.

So to sum up, I go from one extra mandatory meeting a month to three (add to that the main council meetings). Jump into the middle of committee work with no ramp up. And become a target for an existing bruhaha.

Can you see that my New Year's Cup o' Joy is overflowing already?

Yeah, I didn't sleep well last night either.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Rewrites Redux

Justine Larbalestier has an excellent post on rewrites. She also covers some points on getting critiques and how to view them. She also gives excellent tips on how to rewrite, how to learn how to rewrite, and keeping track of your foibles.

She's really good with showing examples. I'm going to go a re-read it.

Pirates goes down that maelstrom, drainy-whirlpool thing

Last night I spent my last day of vacation watching Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End, which my awesome wife got me for Xmas. My over all impression? Disney, you owe me three hours of my life. I want it back.

The movie, which could have been good, suffered from becoming a vehicle for CGI and Disney wanting to sanitize everything. Characters searched for their (cajones, shhh, don't say that) motivation all throughout the movie and seemed to be searching for a clue (as in "Pat, I'd like to buy a clue, please"). There were scenes that had no other purpose than to show Neat Things(tm). Some shots went on way too long. The actors mostly existed only to yell "Fire" or some other deck command and wear the costumes well. Seriously, this movie gets a WTF Was That For award. Things were unnecessarily complex. Off the top of my head, I can think of three or four whole scenes that could have been cut and not altered the movie. And worse, motivations changed, objects changed their histories, the two pirates (and you know who there are) wander through the movie like brain dead R2D2 and C3PO, the two british guards (and who know who they are) change sides so we can root with them at the end (totally worthless), characters actions were unbelievable, I could go on, but I think you get the point. This goes beyond me yelling "Just shoot the SOB already" at the TV, which I do a lot these days when I'm watching.

Disney, you killed a perfectly good movie franchise. I hope you're proud. And I'm serious, you owe me.

There is only one reason to watch this movie. As a writer, it's like reading slush. You learn the reasons why you need to edit and why you need to kill your darlings. Really, the only reason is to see why you should do what they didn't.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Story Bone

This is another of those "what I woke with" ones. This may or may not also be the same as the movie Universal Soldier (I've only seen certain parts of that movie, so I could be wrong). Parts in parenthesis are thoughts after awaking.

A military android(s) (robots) damaged (must be irreparable or undiagnosable error that makes the android unreliable) in combat is (are) sold as scrap to work maintenance (or colonization). Android(s) is (are) on the cusp of sentience and longs for his/her/its(their) old job(s). Seven Samurai like story like, the old soldiers free a planet.

Edited for grammer

Happy New Year

Here's to a great New Year for all of us. Let's hope it's better than the last one. May all your submissions get contracts.

Also, the weather has cooperated by providing five inches (so far) of my winter exercise routine. We've had one other snow we had to shovel, which was very dry and powdery. This snow, however, was that nice and heavy lake effect snow. Mmm, five inches of wet snow.