You say good-bye...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

...and I say hello.

This blog is a'movin'. We're shifting to Wordpress, because it's prettier and we can do more with it.

The link is NOW:

Update your links, ye foolish mortals!


If everyone really hates it to death, we can always move back.

Your father's ghost.

This is for Lori, because she's working with Hamlet right now and needs any attempt at work ethic destroyed.

But since I am an enormous fan of old text adventure games (have you played Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? No? For shame.) I thought I would share it with the world.

Here you go. The Hamlet Text Adventure Game.

(even better, did you ever play Starship Titanic? You must. It may be old, but it's stunning. It's not like having a conversation with Douglas Adams or Terry Jones, but it's like having long discussions with characters only they could come up with. I spent so much time just talking to robots and not even furthering the story.)

Why I am ever a writer

This morning, on his blog, Neil Gaiman talked about why he loves being a writer...and of course, he's right on all points. Those are the same reasons which make me delight and thrill in writing. Because even though there are the bad days, where you strongly suspect that everything you write is just cleverly worded crap which everyone is going to see through, there's the other days when the whole thing is taut and singing. I think of it as an orchestra: Some days, it's tuning, some days the whole bulk of instruments is playing Night on Bald Mountain or something, and you know it's good.

But there's another part of writing which I really enjoy.

I am working on my next novel The Nondescript, although since I'm racing with several people (you know: almost the entire reading audience of this blog), I'm not actually writing anything for it. I'm not even making notes or outlining, because I just don't outline very well. The only work I've done, and will do, beforehand was I sat down with a piece of paper and worked out my timeline. It's a historical novel, after all: everything needs to line up. Since I wasn't alive in the first half of the 20th Century, I have to do some research.

But regardless of writing things down, I'm putting things together in my head. It's what I do. I know quite a large portion of my cast of characters and what they want (and what they'll get) and I know how my beginning goes and everything.

(An aside: That's why I'm doomed in this race. Every other time I've raced and won by a huge margin, I was in the middle of the book. The beginning has been figured out, the ending is not yet arrived, so all I have to do is find my rhythm and sprint. But here, I'm starting page one, word one, at the very start. Doomed, doomed.)

Last night, lying in bed and thinking about Chapter One, I suddenly realized that I knew the story of what I think will be Chapter Eight, and it arrived whole and vivid and delightful and I was really thrilled to have it turn up.

I don't know that it'll be a popular chapter. Chapter Eight is titled Nigger-Town and concerns a hanging and a kiss, and it's a dark chapter in a book which is primarily a road-trip story and a love story. But I can't wait to write it.

That's what I love about writing, the bits that turn up later which I know what to do with. They inform the earlier bits (this tells me that the other chapters have titles, and I think all the titles are names or descriptions of towns; it also tells me about one of the characters who will appear previous to Chapter Eight). It will also inform the mood of the story thereafter. I also think that maybe, that's where the violence starts.

I'm really looking forward to this novel.

I'm in frantic Rome Novel Finishing Mode. I really want to have the first draft done by October 31st. I know everything in detail from now to the ending, the trick is just sitting down and putting all the remaining words in cunning order, as Douglas Adams once said. Coming up next is a big battle scene which is a logistical and combative nightmare, for reasons I can't research. So I have to write slow, think fast, and hope I turn it into something worth reading.

Okay, I'll go write now. No, I'm going. See?

Is "Nano" a Verb? And Is "Nanoing" a Word At All?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Who cares. I'm throwing caution to the wind and singlehandedly destroying the English language by my careless usage! MUWAHAHAHAHAHA!!

*puts down the crack pipe*

Like Pete, my circumstances have changed drastically from where I was last year. Last year, I didn't have time to do Nano. This year, I have all the same stuff going on I had last year, plus a full time job. So what do I do?

I decide to Nano.

What the hell was I thinking?!

Actually, I was thinking quite a bit. Writing has, understandably, fallen by the wayside. I have all these ideas, and no time to do anything with them. So I figure that now is as good a time as any to "force" myself into writing something. I'm excited about my story, and I think it'll pan out very well. I've stolen the title from another WIP I had a brief idea for. Hey, it was my title, I'll reassign it if I want to. So there. Besides, I'm in love with the title. (But not so much that I wouldn't change it for a big fat advance. LOL) I'm really excited to get to work on Jericho Road. So excited that I've even been making notes here and there. I wouldn't go so far as to say I've been working on an... outline... *shudder* but I'm firming up some ideas.

I'm not sure I'll get anywhere near 50,000 words, but even if I only get to 10K, that's a damn good start, and it's a lot more than I'll have if I don't get my butt in the chair and do it, right? At this point, I'm hoping to reach the 50,000, but I promised myself I wouldn't get disappointed if I didn't make it. There's a shitload going on in my life, and things just don't work out the way I want them to sometimes. Lots of times.... Okay, most times.

So I will try my best, but I'm not beating myself up if I don't hit the target. Anyway. I'm carrieinpa over at the Nano website if you want to look me up!

NaNo(o Nanoo)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I haven't talked about my next novel very much here, mostly because my head's all full-up with my Rome novel right now. But my next novel is on my mind for a couple of reasons: First, because I'm doing research for it tonight (the TV was too loud, I couldn't work on Rome) and second, because the day I begin it is fast approaching.

I decided that I was going to give the whole National Novel Writing Month thing a shot. Why not? I'm a stay-at-home dad this year, I'm a full-time writer, I love writing in the public eye and racing deadlines. The deadline here is two fold, though. It means that I have to finish my Rome novel by October 31st, that way I can start on November 1st on my next project.

(That's why I put the Rome Novel word counters on the side of the blog: it's public accountability. I don't exactly think anyone's going to berate me if I don't turn in a reasonable word count, but it's public, and I know it's there. It's useful.)

My next novel is titled The Nondescript and it takes place in the 1940s, very heavily influenced by the works of John Steinbeck and Mark Twain, but also some Jack London (I'm discovering). It is, perhaps for properly the first time in my life, completely devoid of any science fiction or fantasy elements. It's a love story, a road trip story, a wartime story, and a murder mystery.

I'm planning, in November, to manage 100,000 words of it. That might be the whole length of the novel.

The interesting thing is that historical fiction seems to be my bent for the past while. Rome novel has some twists, but it's a historical novel at its core. This novel is unabashedly a historical novel, perhaps it even falls under mainstream. Very interesting.

(The research is a delight. I had to match up my dates tonight, to make sure what history in my head was remembered correctly and worked with the history of the world that year. They matched up better than I could have dreamed).

I think I'll post more about this novel during November. This is just a quiet mention because I'm doing research, and I'm thinking about the way my writing is shifting of late (as evidenced by my Winds of Change post, further down the page). So that's it.

Rome novel is potentially going to be hampered by the fact that I can feel a head cold laying bricks in my head. We'll see how much longer I remain an upright and viable member of the human race.

Speaking of which, I'm going to go lie down for a bit. Take care.

A crisis averted

(A note: I really hated titles like the one I've given this blog. I see them turn up all the time, for some reason, on fantasy novels and romance novels. A battle joined, a heart unloved, a man unmarried, a darkness rising. Sigh. They're just boring.)

The situation around here was getting pretty desperate for this past week. Tensions were really mounting, I was coming unhinged and uncertain how I would continue writing, let alone living a life and being an asset to my family. The problem was inescapable and it was swallowing my life.

I'd run out of tea.

It just happened that way. We're too busy for a trip to the Twin Cities, and frankly we're too poor to hit up the one store that sells any sort of loose leaf tea here in town (Byerly's).

So, bit by bit, the tea in the house had dwindled down to the desperate situation I was in yesterday morning: I had some African rooibos, another kind of rooibos that my wife owned and, because my sister was out of town, I could have a pot of her expensive white tea, mostly because she wasn't there to stop me. I was jonesin'! I was even reduced to making pots of tea using, I can do this....bags. I was in a real bad place.

(Rooibos tea is delicious and I love it no end, but it's non-caffeinated and, like green tea, is cleansing and calming and relaxing tea. So it mostly makes me sleepy. I'm trying to finish my Rome novel by October 31st! I don't need sleepy and cleansed! Plus, one can only drink so much Rooibos.)

Perhaps you doubt those were the only teas I had? All right, you've got me: I have a tin of Irish Breakfast, and Yorkshire Gold. Both of which produce such a thick, harsh, bitter tea that I find it undrinkable, despite my best efforts. Milk hasn't helped. Neither have a bit of honey. They taste nearly like coffee. They don't count.

Also, I knew that Lori Basiewicz was sending me tea. This was for a bet we had, racing to see how much of our respective novels we could finish in a given amount of time. I was in mortal terror, picturing her as this great machine, rolling and churning and steaming and sending out a constant stream of thousands of words a day. So I kicked into high gear, in terror every time I stopped, and turned out well over twenty thousand words in the week we raced. She, to my chargrine, was apparently a bit busy and wound up writing less and editing what she had.

So she owed me tea and she'd just now mailed it out. So I knew that, on Wednesday of this coming week, I can expect a package with Indian tea in it. I'm delighted, because I've never had Indian tea and have no idea what to expect. But Wednesday is a lifetime away!

Yesterday, a god smiled down upon me and had mercy. I think it was Bacchus.

First, my sister got home from visiting my parents, who live in Washington D.C. right now.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortled in my joy. She had brought me tea from a really nice tea store down there. Orange spice. I've had a pot last night and it tastes like love. Which is such a stupid description, but there you go. It's delicious, it's got the sharp undercurrent of spice, a taste of orange which appears on the back of your throat (and as the tea cools) and the whole thing tastes warm and filling and invigorating. Magnificent stuff.

Several hours later, my wife and I went grocery shopping, which was a logical progression from the realization that we had no food. We shopped for the better part of an hour. I had mentioned earlier that I wanted to stop by the tea aisle and buy a box of Constant Comment tea bags, as an emergency supply for the next time I ran out of proper tea.

We nearly forgot. We were almost done and back up to the front of the store. It's an easy aisle to forget: three-fourths of it is full of baby stuff, the last bit is mostly coffee with tea wedged in as an afterthought.

I went down the tea bit, I picked up my box of Constant Comment, and then I looked to my left...

...and discovered that my grocery store all of a sudden sold loose leaf tea.

Not just that! They sell it in the large pouring containers that are common in most grocery stores with coffee beans: you put the bag over the nozzle and tilt the handle and coffee pours out. They have it for tea now! Not the highest quality, I think (I've never heard of the brand) but loose leaf no less and fairly cheap.

They had two rows, perhaps sixteen or twenty varities. So in giggly delight, I got some Earl Gray, because life is better with that, and I got a couple ounces of China Gunpowder tea, because I've never had it and always wanted to try it. They also had Black Currant tea and English Breakfast tea, the other two that immediately jumped out at me. My wife bought some fruity teas which are sometimes not too bad.

If there is a god of tea, he has rewarded my faith well unto this life. I am a saved soul! Or, in the passive sentence theme I started with my blog title, I am A Soul Saved, or A Soul that was to be saved, if we want to get wildly passive.

I can't talk anymore. I have to go drink tea!

Things Sane People Don't Do

Saturday, October 13, 2007

As anyone who talks to me on a regular basis -- in a situation where I'm prone to musing -- can attest to, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about fairly insane things which I would love to do and then write an article about them. Vague? Yeah. I have a big series of long articles which would be physically grueling (and a bit dangerous) that I would love to try to do. I don't want to go into detail on that one because I still do hope, someday, to carry it out. My wife, who is sane and patient and has a more normal view of danger than I do, thinks that it's an awful idea and doesn't want me to do it (which is why I'm not, right now). I am ever hopeful.

Anyway. One idea which has just crossed my mind at the moment, which I could feasibly try without too much difficulty -- because it doesn't involve leaving the house -- would be along article chronicling going several days and nights without any sleep at all.

What I've read on the internet indicates that one can actually go a fair amount of time without sleep (one discussion claims thirteen days to a month). This is lunatic and not at all practical. What I wonder about, though, is three days, four nights. Something like that. And while I'm doing that, I would still go about my day to day stuff, see how that changes as I run down on sleep. I would also keep a running document going on the laptop and I add to it now and then, as things change.

I don't know that it would make a valuable article to anyone (for one thing, I bet it's been done), but it would make an interesting blog article. And it would be interesting to try.

Partly because there are shows like Survivorman as well as Morgan Spurlock's fascinating 30 Days series.

(I think that if I weren't a writer-with-family, I would be some sort of weirdo survivalist)

That's the sort of nutty things I come up with and go "Cool, how can I feasibly do that?"

(I'm not completely nuts: My second thought is always how can I do this safely?)

Icky Thud

Friday, October 12, 2007

I just broke the blog layout. Never fear. I'll either repair it, or break it worse. What could go wrong?

Icky Thump

Well, I did it. I shored up my courage and I...canceled God in the Machine.

I was nervous about doing it, I felt ashamed for it, as if I'd given in. In a way I have. These things don't work for a huge number of reasons. For me, the series worked all by itself, but *I* couldn't physically manage it. I talked about it a bit on the site.

Ten minutes after pulling the episodes and writing my apologetic newspost, I felt 1) Relieved at not having to turn out another episode and 2) Excited that I can now spend today, tomorrow, and ever-more time working on my Rome novel. Really excited about that.

I think those two feelings confirm that, shame aside, this was the right thing to do.


Yesterday, Rllgthunder mentioned in a comment section that I'd been blogging a lot more. The reason for that is, I have dramatically scaled back exactly what I'm doing on the computer. I have limited myself to E-mail, to posting on this blog, and to posting on Lori's blog. That's it. No IM, no AW, nothin'. If I want to kill time beyond that, I go off onto the internet and read interesting articles and learn things. Or I read...books. Mostly, because none of those things are immediate interactivity required (the things I'm limited to), it means I'm more easily willing to forget about the browser and just write away. I've done nine thousand words in the past two days. I don't know how much I'll get done today, but by Saturday night, I full intend to hit 80,000 words in my Rome novel.

I mapped it out. I was planning for two weeks until the end of October, with a few random days on the side for God in the Machine episodes. Now, I have over two weeks -- almost three? -- to finish writing Rome. I can absolutely do that. Then, for November, I will put Rome totally aside and write the first draft of The Nondescript for NaNo. Then, come December, I will return to Rome to edit and revise and start sending out query letters (don't make me write one. Please? I hate query letters) and trying to sell it.

I figure mid-December, early January, I'll start writing God in the Machine as a trilogy of books, which I can do without losing anything from the story.

So there's my day. I'm going to go have a celebratory drink of tea in honor of failing at the online game. (Smiley face goes here.)

Addendum: I have just realized, with no small amount of irony attached, that in a post made on this very blog in January of this year, I touched upon...well...mostly everything that I'm touching on right now. 1) Robots. 2) AW 3) Trying to get away from technology. Yessir, when it comes to consistently touching, I'm your guy. (Please don't send me to jail.)

I can has no technology plz?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Slowly, slowly, I've been getting more and more disgruntled with technology, something which is fairly easy to do since I'm a technology junkie and have a house full of the stuff. I think a lot of this came about at the same time as my television interests changed, as well as all the mental alterations I talked about below (in Winds of Change, and now I'm whistling it again...)

So, the result is that I have a large volume of technology in the house, all of which I'm finding specific reasons not to have in my life. It's not healthy for me as a writer, and perhaps for me as a human being. Whether or not it's doing you any good either, dear reader, is up to you. This may be a problem only to me.

Let me list technologies and complain about them in turn.

1) iPod - The iPod was a big deal for me. I do not have a driver's license, I never have, as I've mentioned previously on this blog. This is because I had no interest in driving when I was a teenager, so I never bothered to get one. The iPod was big deal because I walk everywhere, which affords me plenty of time to listen to music. HOWEVER... the problem was, I realized that I was going for walks with headphones on and plugging myself into all sorts of noise. This was just an escalation of the problem that presented itself when I got my current cell-phone, a Motorola SLVR, which has a built in MP3 player of sorts. Noise! Noise! Noise! So I stopped bringing the iPod on walks several months back and watched as ideas formed in my head better. Less noise.

2) DVR Cable box - This might be TiVo to you, but we have a local sort of box from our cable company. You know the deal: I can record TV shows, I can pause, fast forward, re-wind live television, all that yaz, right? Right. HOWEVER... several nights ago, when we discovered that we had three television shows set to record at the same time, we knew that the box could only record two shows at once. That meant if we wanted to see the third program, we had to watch it on a different television. So my wife and I went to the bedroom and watched it on the small TV there. THAT cable box has no special features. What we realized was that during the commercial breaks, which we could not skip, we talked more. We got up and did things. In short, we didn't sit there and vegetable in front of the TV all the way through the program. The DVR box is another noise problem. It means I have all the content I want without any pauses, any moments of free thought. That's bad.

3) Napster - Napter is more of the same. The joy and the curse of Napster is that I instantly have a huge library of music right at my fingertips. I don't even download the songs most of the time, I can just add them to my Now Playing box and instantly have tons of things to listen to. HOWEVER... I very quickly realized that I was spending time building playlists and choosing really exciting and fun music at any given moment. That meant that I wasted time choosing music, and when chosen, the music was what I was interested in right that moment and was, therefore, distracting. I have therefore set up a big bulky stereo on a book shelf just next to where I work. It's big and loud enough to fill the house, when I want it to. It's permenantly tuned to my local Public Radio station which plays really enjoyable classical music. That's what I get in my day, when I want music. I can enjoy it, I can work around it. It's not noise, it's an enjoyable background sound.

4) Instant Messaging Programs - This is a fairly small and simple problem, although it was proving to be problematic. I get very tied to the program when I'm talking to someone. Whatever I do around the house, I do it within vicinity of the computer so I can see when a new message comes in. Plus, if it's a good conversation, I wind up spending the day enjoying that instead of writing.

5) Message Boards (forums) - Again, this is a pretty specific problem. I only visit one message board. Absolute Write. I tend to come and go from there in spurts, for reason which I will keep mostly to myself (perhaps you can guess; I wouldn't be surprised). Every now and then, I get too enamored in some conversation, usually an irrelevant one and again, I wind up paying too much attention there. The problem is that, as with all this other stuff, it just becomes noise and I wind up not thinking and not writing.

My head isn't anywhere where I can work with all this stuff. So I wind up losing hours out of my day, miserable and depressed. This in turn affects my relationship with Zach. I have noticed that today, which I spent almost entirely internet and technology free, Zach and I had the first day where we were peaceful. He was never crying, I was never angry and yelling. That's a big step for us. I think they're related.

It's too much noise. Society, if you'll pardon thirty seconds of preachy crap, is just full of noise and instant gratification and noise. We live in the contradictory age where we are absolutely inundated and obsessed with ways to communicate with each other...and yet we are almost incapable of communicating with each other and we avoid thinking.

Mostly, I wind up reading about authors of the past and admiring people like Rudyard Kipling, with his technology-free life, his beautiful estates where he walked, his large desk where he wrote by hand.

I write on computer mostly out of necessity, and this is one piece of the technology addiction I cannot escape: I am painfully aware that it takes me far, far longer to write a thousand words on paper than on computer and I don't always have that luxury. Or I don't have the patience for it. I still write by hand a great deal. Never all. Never enough.

I adore my fountain pen. I like that I go through ink cartridges because it gives the sense of producing something, just like going through sheafs of paper does.

When I had it, as I stated in the comments section of a previous post, I really adored the hell out of my typewriter. Man-o-man.

So there. My technology rant. I'll try not to rant anymore, but I think I've got one more coming. But that one, I think I'll turn into an article and sell for some cashy-money. Yes.

What bits of technology are you aware are an impediment (or beginning to think of as one) in your life and want to get rid of? And are you going to?

No, NOW I'm going to write...

I was just heading offline when I saw, via Yahoo! News that Doris Lessing has won a Nobel prize.

That just makes me happy. I haven't read her most well-known work The Golden Notebook, but I have enjoyed the bits of her material I have read.

So I went off and found an interview with her, from 1999, and I enjoyed that even more. What a wonderful woman. I should love to sit down and talk to her.

Also, Harold Bloom didn't want her to win. So that makes me happy. Because if I haven't mentioned it here before, Harold Bloom is a stuck-up asshole of cataclysmic proportions. He's as snobbish as Nabokov. I am embarrassed by the both of them.

So now, made happier and prouder to be a writer after reading her interview, I'm going to go do some writing myself.

Addendum: And her reaction to winning the prize is charm itself. I hope I'm so charming at eighty-eight years old, but fear that when someone comes round to tell me I've won a prize, I'll be yelling at them to bugger off my lawn while throwing rocks at squirrels, or something. (When you read this article, watch the little video clip available on the left side of the article. She's fun to listen to. What a nice person.)

Brain Games

I've been thinking, off and on all week, that I should discontinue God in the Machine before it gets rolling too far along and I wind up disappointing both readers who enjoy it.

The reasoning is easy: It's not making money. I am a stay-at-home parent and full-time writer, which therefore means I need to Make Money, Damn It. Time spent writing robots is time not spent finishing my Roman novel and getting it out there, or preparing notes for my next novel (which I'm going to talk about a little further in an upcoming post).

On the other hand, I like having a serial, most of the time. The weekly schedule was a horrible idea, because I burned out badly on it (and I quietly think you can tell when you read Voice, Echo, Silence, Part 2; and the difference is huge compared to Voice, Echo, Silence, Part 3, which was written in a much less burnt-out state). But it's kind of fun.

So mostly, I've been indecisive about keeping it, just as I was indecisive about starting it in the first place. I just keep writing. It's the easiest option.

Then, yesterday, as I'm lying in bed wondering why I thought a biiig mug of caffeinated tea was such a super idea before bedtime, the story of God in the Machine arrives in my head, neat and tidy and entirely capable of being told in novel form. A long novel, but a single novel nonetheless.

That was one of the reasons I made it a serial in the first place: Because the story was just too long and too complex to be told in anything less than several novels. Maybe you can get a hint of that through the episodic format, maybe not. Regardless, that was a mighty tempting revelation. I like to think it'd make a pretty good novel.

Which is not to say I'm ending the series or anything. I'm just stewing.


I spent three happy hours yesterday writing my Rome novel (have I told you the title of it yet? No? It has one, finally. I'm very pleased). This chapter, oddly enough, is structured like a stand-alone episode, as if the Roman novel were a serial. I'm wondering if the remaining chapters will structure themselves like that. I really wouldn't mind. I wonder if they would have done it anyway, or if this is the result of my other major project being a serial.

If so, that's a good reason to keep doing a serial. I write best in that format (I don't know if you can tell. The robot stories come faster and easier and more confidently. I know when I've written something good. I know when it sings and when it rasps. I can play a serial like a musical instrument. With novels, I'm like a man in an iron lung with a tuba).


I am technically Not On The Internet Thank You. This is because I realized, yesterday, that I had gone beyond moderation and was spending all my time online. I don't have good middle gears, so when something like this happens, I just cut myself off the internet almost entirely and go do other things until I can approach the internet with some sensibility. So I am answering my e-mail in the morning and in the evenings (when my wife is home and I am therefore less likely to spend much time online). The only reason I'm posting this is, I'm eating lunch.

I'm still on the computer too much, I just flick the switch that turns off the wireless internet. I wish I had an old electric typewriter, I think I'd do some articles and short stories on that and be a happy camper. Of course, living in an apartment makes this impractical. My neighbors would think I'm firing off guns at 100-shots-per-minute. Then again, if they came and complained, I could dispatch them much easier with a heavy typewriter than with a small laptop. It's the difference between hitting someone with a baseball bat and a loofah.

And now I'm blithering. So I'll head back offline, thank you so much.

Winds of Change

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Unlike the song, "Winds of Change," I will not begin this article by whistling at you for a very long time.

What I'm talking about today started when I was eleven years old. I remember it very distinctly, it's been something I've thought about over the years.

One day, when I was in my room, I looked down at my action figures for whatever reason and I realized that I had gone days, perhaps weeks, without playing with them. Moreover, I realized this didn't particularly bother me any.

Prior to this, I played with them constantly. They were my first storytelling medium, before and during my discovery of things like pens and papers, and typewriters, and eventually computers. They were all individual characters with histories and personalities. The adventures and stories were long-running and as episodic and detailed as anything I've done so far with God in the Machine. I never really played with anyone else -- at least, not in this manner -- for probably the same reason I don't collaborate with other writers easily today: Because it's easier just to do it myself, since I already know how it all goes.

But anyway: When I looked at them and realized that I was going lengthy periods of time without being interested in them, I thought very clearly, I have grown out of this and into new things.

Two things came with that: First, the feeling of sadness, the idea that something once loved was now just a memory and a shell. Secondly, the confusion and fascination at actually being aware of this moment.

The first was transitory and passed easily. I remember after this thought occurred, that I sat down on the floor and I played with them...but there was no joy in it. There was no creation. I was just going through the motions of games and stories told years prior, and I knew it. My interests were in new things. I had new books, I was writing steadily (steadily, hell, I was writing prolifically; I wish I could still write as fast and easily as I did when I was eleven). My games were more outdoors. There had been places I'd lived prior where it wasn't really safe to travel around the town, but this wasn't one of those places. This was a pretty good place, despite having the built-in fault of being located in Nevada. I had begun to discover music, as well as television. I was still a few years away from discovering the internet and the delight of multiplayer gaming. I had discovered girls, of course, because boys discover girls thirty seconds after they are born, but girls were still a different planet than me. It would be another three years before I would meet a pretty, funny girl who would eventually become my wife.

The second feeling, the confusion and fascination, is the bit which sticks with me over the years. In hindsight, what has always struck me about it is the awareness of the moment, of realizing "Here, at this moment, I have outgrown this" and knowing deep down that it really was true (and it was. I never played with them again).

Something I talked about at length in a previous article on this blog, Bags, Bones & Heartstrings, was the gifty-curse of self-awareness that writers have: that is to say that you could be crying your heart out and, somewhere in the back of your head, be thinking coldly so this is what it's like...

I think of my moment realization as being part of that same thing. It's the same cold piece saying "And this is where your interests shifted away entirely. You know this."
What got me thinking about this moment actively -- and discussing it here, in turn -- was the movie The Weather Man, with Nicholas Cage.

Bear with me here.

It was a terrific movie, I walked away from it feeling happy and thinking I would have liked to have written that. That was something of a new feeling toward that kind of movie.

This was in tandem with someone recommending that I check out a historical fiction sub-forum, over at AbsoluteWrite. I've been there for years and years and didn't even know it was there, so I happily went over. And while I was browsing, I realized that my current novel -- my Roman novel -- is not exactly historical fiction, but it's closer to that than anything else. And my next novel is set in the '20s and '30s and is very definitely a historical novel. In neither novel is there anything science-fictional, nothing fantasy, nothing really horror (except the mundane, grisly horrors that pop up in life out of certain situations; I mean there's nothing supernatural).

And I thought, very clearly, as if I were eleven again: I am not a science fiction writer.

I've been stewing on that for a couple of days now, and that meant I really thought about it. I've been getting enormous pleasure out of reading Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton, which is a space-opera sort of science fiction novel. Part of the enormous pleasure comes from the fact that I haven't read something like this with any enjoyment in a lot of years. So much of science fiction which I buy, perhaps out of habit, goes unread. Likewise, I don't particularly enjoy huge whallops of fantasy. Harry Potter was the last proper fantasy work I read.

There are still authors of the fantastic I read. Gene Wolfe is perhaps classified as science fiction, but I don't know that he really is entirely. Neil Gaiman writes fantasy, sure, I guess. I have no idea what genre you would put Stephen King into anymore (and don't care, I delight in him wherever he is).

The books I've taken bigger delight in reading, recently, have been things like Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem, a novel I began reading because it was about Roman soldiers and a novel which I finished reading because I just couldn't stop, it was too powerful. Or Pompeii, by Robert Harris, which was more or less the same situation. Beyond that, I read non-fiction, or I read much older science fiction and fantasy (where modern sci-fi is so frequently impenetrable to me, Isaac Asimov is still like an easy old friend).

And as I think further about this, I consider my television habits. Very abruptly, at the beginning of the summer which is now abandoning us, I lost all interest in the movie channels we had, in most of the re-runs, in most of the story-shows. I spent the summer devouring the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, the History Channel. I re-discovered a delight and enthusiasm in deep sea marine biology and watched all manner of programs on the topic, then wandered off to read and study. Science became more interesting to me than science fiction. The science of the future delighted me more than the science of the fantastic.

The disjointing part of all of this -- and the part where you perhaps begin to think I've gone utterly mad -- is the strange feeling in my brain, a sort of off-kilter feeling, as if I can feel the gears of my brain shifting over. It's like a factory that's shutting down so workers can program the equipment for new materials and molds. Is that a cheesy metaphor? Probably. But it's what I've got. I go back and forth on all of this as I think about it, but there's no denying the fact that my short stories -- as those who read them can attest -- grow more and more quietly fantastic and more about people. If there is a fantastic element, a science fiction element, it's deep in the background. And as I look at the novel ideas which I am excited about working on, they really aren't fantastic, except in the sense of people. There's no smash-bang Star Wars novel in my future, for example.

This is so much fun. What fun would writing be if nothing ever changed? I love the big shifts and the weird days of feeling off-kilter. Couldn't be more happy about it.

And now, I've gone on at great length about it too.

I'm still alive, for those who care. :oP

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I hate to interrupt Pete's prolific blogging, but I thought I'd pop on and mention that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. We've had a lot going on lately, and then I ended up with a nasty sinus *thing* that I think was partially due to allergies, thanks to our psychotic PA weather.

I'm mostly feeling better, except for the massive Jupiter-sized Boulder-O-Stress lounging across my shoulders. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that something's gotta give here soon, and it's probably going to be what's left of my sanity.

The Most Dangerous Night of Television!

Friday, September 28, 2007

First off, let me say how utterly hilarious it is that the title of this post is the catch-line of the Sci-Fi Channel. It's so...accurate. What could be more dangerous than watching Flash Gordon? Or maybe a special encore presentation of I was Eaten By A Fifty Foot Atomic Woman Spider 2 or whatever movie they're kicking around that week. Dangerous, even if you've never been inclined toward hanging yourself in the past.


The awkward part of having conversations with my friends is the bit where we come around to discussing television. What I, and my wife watch on television are not the things we should be logically watching, based on the rest of our interests.

For example, I do not watch Dr. Who. I do not watch Battlestar Galactica. I have had no inclination, despite the insistence of my friends that I would love them.

My TV tastes wander to the opposite end of the spectrum from the rest of my tastes. My favorite shows are things like House and Shark and my favorite shows are Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and Survivorman on the Discovery Channel.

Beyond that, I watch other things, mostly with my wife. (On my own, I watch very little television). We watch things like C.S.I and The Biggest Loser and Ghost Hunters and Medium. You get the idea where my tastes range.

In my reading, though, I come across the fascinating idea that we have a whole new collection of sci-fi shows coming out this year...and no one's apparently interested in 'em. They are expected to suck harder than Flash Gordon. And that sucks pretty hard.

Nonetheless, the commercials started to catch my attention. So I watched some things. And here's what I thought.


Heroes: Season 2

I was a huge fan of Heroes season one, as mentioned previously on this blog. It didn't work for me for quite a while into the series...until I stopped trying to think about it like a TV series and started treating it like a comic book, with each episode being an issue. Then it works perfectly. The weird pacing problems that bothered me fell into place and I was absolutely riveted.

The ending was weak to season 1, but the story was great and I was a very happy man. I was delighted and overjoyed at each episode and giddy for the next one to come.

Heroes Season 2 starts off strong, following our characters from last season. I really like where they are right now, I like what we're getting to see them do. Hiro is adorable, Nathan is really fascinating and the Clare's dad (I can't remember his name all of a sudden) is the star of this episode just in a couple of scenes. Absolutely wonderful. I can't wait for the next episode.


"It's Quantum Leap," I said to my wife when we first saw the commercials. "It's Quantum Leap, without Sam!"

"It looks interesting," she thought.

So we recorded it. As I saw more and more commercials, I got more and more interested. So I was gently excited when I sat down to watch it.

Absolutely wonderful. I really like a TV episode where the ending has me grinning happily all the way through. The time travel was handled well, the reaction to it was handled logically, and I am looking forward to see where we go from here. I also like TV shows where it ends and the writer in me is busy figuring out where the storylines will go. How will his wife react? How will everyone else handle this? How is HE going to handle this? It's less about time travel and it's more of a character study, and I think that makes it stronger. It also isn't goofy, but there is a mild humor in it.

And the main star has such a cool arched eyebrow. This was a very good show, and I'm really looking forward to where it goes. It ended and I went "Oh wow...that was cool!"

Bionic Woman

The previews sounded cool. So we watched the first episode. It wasn't bad. I wasn't blown away, but there's definitely potential for the future episodes. The pilot episode was pretty self-contained (it was an origin story, all-told).

The special effects were just cool. This show, and Heroes, both really make me wish that Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was being done now, because we'd get a great love story and some killer Superman effects, which we sadly lacked when the show was originally on.

I'm undecided about this one. I need to see where the story tries to go from here before I care, one way or the other. But it didn't actively turn me off and the battle was really cool, toward the end, so I'll come back.


So here I am. Someone who has not cared much about sci-fi since Babylon 5 went off the air (sci-fi on TV anyway). Someone who really abandoned it when Firefly went down. I'm interested, I'm enjoying it, I'm waiting to see what comes next.

NBC is suddenly holding the most dangerous night of sci-fi television, and I like that. They do a damn sight better job than the Sci-Fi Network does at anything.

Bits and pieces

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let's see...

God in the Machine is a blast to write and I'm having a lot of fun. I've been waxing nostalgic for quite some time, trying to figure out a way to do a serial story again. Now that I am, I'm having a huge amount of fun. The only part I'm NOT having any fun with is doing it once a week. That is just exhausting. It also means some of the editing is bordering on sloppy, or non-existent, because I'm finishing episodes late-afternoon Mondays. (And the ideal release is late Sunday night).

Still, while doing a two-week schedule gave me the ability to work waaay ahead, as well as edit and tighten each episode (and make them around 15,000 words instead of 10k), it really did seem like two weeks between episodes was just too long to make people wait.

The reason I originally went with a two-week schedule was easy: Back in the day, when there were a big group of us writers who hung out together, and many of us were doing serial work (it was a fad: you started with a fanfiction series and went from there.) that's how it was done. Usually, the series worked together so that they provided a smooth schedule among all of them. I was the 7th and the 14th, I believe.

I'm just unsure if that works any longer. Especially with a series like God in the Machine, where I think that I have to really fight for people's attention. It was a fad, online series, and now it's gone and if I'm going to keep building my readership, I have to give them something to come back for on a fairly frequent basis, I should think.


Another not unrelated point: I was really bored with my Rome novel, which is partially why I quit working on it. I know every scene and all the details from now through the ending, but they felt contrived and awkward and I was uncomfortable with it all.

Then, when I was reading the wonderful Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton, I stopped and stared into space for a few minutes and realized that -- unrelated to the Peter Hamilton book -- I'd just solved the Rome problem without even thinking about it. I know how to make it work. I know how to keep all my details exactly the same, from now through the end, and make them work.

It requires really expanding the novel, but that's okay. Fantasy-ish novels aren't generally short. It also requires expanding my locations and my timeline and that's...actually fun. For one thing, it means I have to do more research on Roman society as well as Roman legal affairs, both of which I'm happily looking forward to digging into .


(the baby pictures I posted are my secret weapon against Lori's new blog. I have baby pictures, she doesn't. Nyah nyah. Sigh.)


So I was going through a journal I have. It's this beautiful red-leather bound book with a nice silk page marker. Very fancy. The first thing I did was scribble in it. My theory is, once scribbled in, it's defaced a little, and therefore I am less intimidated in just letting loose and writing any ol' thing in it. It's still intimidating, but it's also been around the house long enough that it's comfortable and familiar.

I was flipping through it, reading notes on my Rome Novel and bits of earlier drafts. Forty pages in, one draft stops almost mid-sentence on one page. The next page is blank, except for the following line. After that, the next page continues with the draft of something else. This is the line:

A rather perplexed London Times Newspaper announced that it would be a rough year, because the first song of the Cuckoo had been heartbreaking.

I read it and I was floored. I have zero idea what it means. I don't even know what to make of it. Usually when I stumble across something I don't remember writing, it's enough like "Me" that I think of new ideas (or remember old ideas, if this makes sense) based on it. But this...I get nothing.

I don't know what to do with it, I don't know if there's a short story in there, I don't have a clue. But I love that it's here, alone on a page, randomly in one of my journals, found by accident.


Right-o. I'm off to read some more and then fall asleep, until 5 A.M. when Mr. Baby decides that it's really time he was fed now, darn it.

Good night.

Photos, instead of content!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Let's look at some baby pictures. Why not. There are women reading this blog. This'll be the most popular post in weeks.

^ This is my son, watching Dancing With The Stars (Seriously. What the hell is that show?)

^ This is my son, totally dissing Marie Osmond's Cha-Cha, or convulsion, or whatever it was.

^ Lazy lazy. Serious contemplating ur string theoriez.
(Lazy cat played by Bailey).

^ This is baby's happy look, just after sending Dad to the cornfield. Shudder.

(Charley The Seahorse For Vice President!)

^ Yes. We are all watched by Seahorses when we sleep. So don't ever close your eyes.
(The seahorse summons the clowns, you see. Who eat you.)

^ You can tell this picture was staged because 1) Baby is not doing his famous screaming/grunting/pooing combo (like a straining Hippo). And 2) Pete is not doing his shouting/gnashing/grousing combo which Dads the world over are known for.
Also, Zach looks like Dr. Evil, just a bit.

There we go. That was way easier than the post I was actually going to write, about the Season Premier of Heroes and the series premier of Journeyman. Those have way more words. This has way more baby pictures. Easy! Peasy! Rice and cheezy! (oh. And now I'm hungry. Sigh.)

Good night.

Blog me a blog, for blogging's sake, blogger!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Been awhile since I've posted.

As many of you know, with the sad demise of Carrie -- who passed away from old age, having recently celebrated her 1,100,000,000th birthday -- it has fallen to me to maintain this blog's high standards. Therefore, before beginning this post, I was very careful to remove my pants. Also, because we are a bit entropic around here, I did not fold them up. They are crumpled! On the ground! Ha ha!

Exciting things which have happened on planet Pete:

1) We entered all of our books into Readerware's wonderful software, and were pleased to find that we have something in the vicinity of 1,200 books. Bliss! But we need more, more damn it.

2) Mister Baby is getting really good at focusing on the world around him. Specifically, he likes to focus on mine and my wife's faces. Sometimes, we get smiles, biiiiiig grins. He's just on the verge of laughing. He makes other sounds, but he's almost there. It's interesting to watch.

3) Other times, he gives me this stern-serious-ominous look which freaks the shit out of me and looks like he's about to send me to the cornfield, and then I give him to Mom.

4) God in the Machine is going well. Episode 5 comes out this coming Monday. It's a complicated series, full of complicated episodes, and I'm having a blast.

5) I gave up working on the first draft of Rome. I failed to start a 2nd draft properly. Lori convinced me that the first draft was fine. So I'm back trying to tool that into something I can enjoy working on. No success yet.

6) I just ate a pound of Jambalaya or so, along with corn on the cob. I am so full.

7) But this delicious Rooibos tea is definitely helping.

8) I love all of you.

9) I'm going to go write.

10) Pete

Hooray! VHV is done!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Yay! Pete & I finally managed to squeeze in a few minutes to finish up Variety Hour V, which I believe has taken us longer to write than all 4 previous Variety Hours combined. Of course, at that time, I wasn't working a job outside the home, and Pete didn't have the adorable little guy in the post below.

I'm relieved it's done and posted, and I feel bad that it took so long for us to finish it. Hopefully our beloved readers find it worth the wait. :o)

I'm really excited to have that done now, so I can work on my new WIP. I'm really excited about it, because it's evolving nicely, and because I'm writing it in first person... something I haven't done before. I did get some work done to it over this long Labor Day weekend, but not as much as I wanted. Unfortunately, the tops of my curtains were all dusty and the windows desperately needed washed, so that took a huge chunk of my weekend.

I hope I can keep ahold of the excitement. My last novel was written when I didn't have this *job* thing hogging up my time.

Ugh. And I have a PTO meeting on Wednesday. Meh.

Maybe if I just don't show up for work... or the PTO meeting... they'll all just fire me. :oD

Because I am surrounded by women

Saturday, September 1, 2007


*runs off screaming*

Back to School!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Munchkin started back to school on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, he informed me that he wanted me to quit my job and homeschool him because his teacher is horrible.


Because she had the nerve to give homework (said with utter disgust) on the first day of school. (I personally agreed that it was a bit much.)

Then he decided that if I wasn't going to quit and homeschool him, he'd go to military school. (Not sure where, since there isn't one around here...)

On Thursday, he learned that he has Social Studies ALL YEAR (in other grades it was only a 1/2 year subject), so he was excited as could be. He looooooooooooves Social Studies.

I'm all on board for the quitting my job. But the homeschooling? I think we'd be sick of each other by the end of the first week day class.

Sluggite days.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I still remember the first Sluggy Freelance comic I ever read. It was this one. April 29th, 1998. I had met my wife by that point, but we were not friends. I was writing ten thousand words or so a day -- many of them crap. My job was a paper route. I was in a rough-and-tumble garage band, which for my part was mostly writing lyrics.

1998. Y2k jokes were starting to circulate. Backstreet Boys were still around, and I was not fond of them at all. I think I had just discovered some new bands, like KoRn. It would be another year before I bought my first Alice Cooper album (I can't even count how many I have now).

(A very typical guy/writer detail, too: I still own a couple of shirts from 1998 and they still fit.)

I came to Sluggy Freelance and I laughed and then said "What the hell?" and spent a couple of sleepless nights reading what there was of the archives up to that point. Since April 29th, 1998, I've read Sluggy almost every single day, unless something prevents me from it. And when I get back on the computer, the first thing I usually do is catch up on the few comics I may have missed.

I'm waxing slightly nostalgic about it, because today is Sluggy Freelance's 10th anniversary. It's hard to believe the web-comic's been going for a full decade, and equally hard to believe that I've been reading it for nine years of it.

Congratulations to Pete Abrahms and to Sluggy in general, and I look forward to another ten years being left in suspense over what the hell a "sluggy freelance" is anyway.

What Arthur C. Clarke said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I make no secret about how I'm a big fan of stage magicians, among them Penn and Teller, and Harry Anderson, who was always fun to watch. I'm also a big fan of psychology.

I've been deeply enjoying the episodes of Mind Control they've been showing on the Sci-Fi Channel, following the frankly amazing antics of Derren Brown, an illusionist who lays claims to neither psychic powers, nor real magic. Nonetheless, what he is able to is amazing. Go to YouTube and look him up. Watch the show.

Along those same lines, this was a delightful article that I enjoyed. And so, of course, I must share it with you.

Harry Potter kills Kids with Devil Worship!!!!

Hey, you want to have some blood pressure spikes? I did. Here. Read this.

Follows is my response. Understand that it is not an attack on Catholicism. I am Catholic. I am proud of it. Nevertheless, it is something you lot probably didn't know about me, and the reason I am not forthcoming to mention because of articles like above.


He is frankly a very poor writer indeed. Or a fine writer, and a poor thinker. That was a lazy, knee-jerk article without any particular purpose or use, just mindless puppeteering. Harry Potter is evil! Harry Potter kills Gods!

Ladies and gentlemen, if Harry Potter can kill God, then he's been croaked a long time now. By the same system of argument that he uses in this article, rock 'n' roll killed God (starting with that evil Elvis fellow) and so did the Roman Empire, and so did Leonardo Da Vinci, and for that matter most of the rest of the world, which has continued to contain quite a lot of things unrelated to God.

The article is cheap and stupid, when it comes to it. He has not read the books, he has not thought about the books, he has not treated the books as works of fiction, on the line of Stephen King or Gene Wolfe or Neil Gaiman, not on the line of the Bible (portions of which, certainly, are also fiction? Unless we're following a Protestant belief that Every Biblical Word Is True and Verbatim).

The article is dangerous, in that he takes a nearly militant stand against The Evilness of Harry Potter. My God, it's that same sort of "if it's not for the Bible and God, then it's AGAINST the Bible and God!" attitude which can be further translated to "Those stupid Muslims are all terrorists," and just a bit further to "Kill them all, God will know his own." It's a black and white worldview, a "with us or against us," decision that is dangerous and stupid and lazy. You have no business writing an article of any sort, about anything -- be it Harry Potter, world politics, the Minnesota Twins, or wormholes -- if you have decided that the world is thus, and everything which does just jive precisely with you is therefore evil, or bad.

Let's look at the good things Harry Potter does, all of which he glosses in a happy attempt at waving torches and pitchforks.

1) Harry Potter has brought quite a lot of kids back into an interest in reading. When they finish a Harry Potter book -- which they read fast and easy, something that is sweet -- then they have a year or two to wait until the next one. Or, now, they have no more at all. And therefore they seek out something else to read. I spend a lot of happy time in my used bookstore -- at last five or six times a week, if not more -- with a beleagured mom and a hyper kid, looking for other books they've liked. I'm afraid I've turned them on to such godless books as Isaac Asimov, the Lord of the Rings (we'll come back to LotR) and other interesting books like A Series of Unfortunate Events.

2) Harry Potter has several messages beyond death. From the get-go, we learn that you should rely on your friends. That's a good message. We learn that Good is Good and Bad is Bad, and you should always fight for Good, you should always fight for what's right. Even when the odds are stacked against you, even when it's hard and painful and the whole world thinks you're crazy, you should fight for good. This is a message we find in great literature all across the board. Isn't that one of the key messages of Babylon 5? This far, and no further. "You can say No I Won't one more time, and they can say Yes You Will. But as long as you don't give've beaten them." This is the message of Harry Potter, the message of Babylon 5, the message of the Lord of the Rings, Superman, every comic book ever written, and...oh. The Bible.

3) The Harry Potter books are full of references to fairy tales and mythology, to the point where I happily helped a child find a book on the mythological and historical references of the Phoenix bird. This is wonderful. If we have all manner of scientists in the world because of Star Trek (I'll come back to that too), then I am content to think we will have all manner of historians and anthropologists because of Harry Potter.

Articles like this don't think of any of that. The author, who I will unhesitantly refer to as a fool, picks a small bad point of view and, when there is the potential for it not to exist (as it fails to here) then he makes it up. What does Frodo say about Sauron? He cannot create, only pervert? This is true of articles like this.

And speaking of the Lord of the Rings. God is not visibly, actively, in this moment present in the Lord of the Rings, therefore they are killing God by teaching us that this is a World Of Men. This is true of the Lord of the Rings books, as well. Only if you go further into The Silmarillion and the Lost Tales do you find out about Middle-Earth's God and Angels. The Lord of the Rings are easily so evil as Harry Potter -- full of wizards!!! -- and for that matter, so are the Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And yet we do not see articles such as this appearing which accuse the Lord of the Rings of destroying God and killing young minds and leading them down a path of Satanism (A claim that baffles me, in that Satan has failed to even be mentioned once in Harry Potter, for how often they are is bandied about together).

Also, I mentioned Star Trek. Where all the other titles I have mentioned are just Not Mentioning God, Star Trek is anti-religion. It always has been, of course. And yet Star Trek has existed for decades now, for thousands of TV episodes and eleven movies, coming soon. So where are the rampant articles declaring Star Trek a menacing evil to religion which will destroy God and bring about the end of a hallowed view of the universe? There aren't any. Not particularly.

The reason for this is simple. It is fashionable, at the moment, to attack Harry Potter books. What better a "me too" article could you write than a "Harry Potter is Evil And Bad And Stuff," article? What an easy thing to find a home for. It's like writing a lazy article that says "Those Muslim Terrorists Sure Are Bad Aren't They?" I bet you could find a home for it. But it's lazy, it's following a crowd that is, upon closer inspection, made up of mostly non-literate lemmings who are getting ever closer to a cliff.

I find, in my little bookstore, that the people who scoff at Harry Potter...usually have never read anything beyond Dr. Phil self help books, Sylvia Browne books on Finding Angels For Real This Time In Your Life, and occasional romance novels called things like Her Thunderous Heart.

Does that give them the right to judge? No. It won't stop them, but they have no right. They are Pharisees paying a crowd to shout "crucify him." They are knee-jerk fools with no thought beyond the popular conceit.

Does having a wider reading base give someone a right to judge? No. No. No. Who are you, or me, or anyone to decide if a book is good or bad? This is where censorship has come from, one of the greatest unnoticed evils of our lifetimes. I personally have a hearty loathing of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code style tripe, but would I prevent someone from reading it? No. Would I declare it evil terrorist propaganda? No. I have not the right. I have an opinion. Nothing more.

Articles about the evil of Harry Potter consign the author to the same bin of worthless fools as people who declare that Elvis will destroy the morality of America, television brings lawlessness and godlessness into the home, video killed the radio star, and so on.

I have this nagging suspicion that God doesn't care if we read or don't read Harry Potter, if we do or don't take back Jerusalem, if we kill the Muslims, or if we "kill them all, and let God sort them out."

This article makes it frankly embarrassing to be Catholic. Fortunately, there's more to a good religion than fools with pitchforks and stupid opinions.

Fortunately, there's more to life than that too.

Doin' the Happy Dance!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I don't know WHY I'm doing the happy dance. Well, I know, but it's ill-timed. School is starting next week. Which means my PTO involvement is about to ratchet up about 185 notches. That's on top of the job and the whole being a wife and mother and not letting the cats starve thing.

So what does my traitorous brain do?

It gives me a fabulous idea.

For a freaking NOVEL.


I'm alternating between the Happy Dance and the What The Hell's Wrong With You Dance.

I'm also doing this novel in first person, which is new for me, but it seems to be the way to go.

Gak, I soooo don't have time for this right now!!!

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

I think I need a refill of my PHENTERMINE. :oD

Nerves all a'jangles.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's been another long weekend, where all sorts of plans I had (relax; sleep; write; work on the Variety Hour's New Plot Direction) were put to the wayside by Mr. Baby developing a 101.9 degree fever and us getting to rush him to the Emergency Room. They checked him out and, because he's a baby of only a month (help!) old, they admitted him to a room to run a bunch of tests. They have to make sure it's not bacterial, because that can progress alarmingly fast and kill 'im.

So. I've been in the hospital all Friday, Saturday, Sunday (I went to work for seven hours on Sunday, a brief parole) and Monday. And, depending on what the tests show, possibly Tuesday as well. I'm here right now, in this cozy little hospital room. If ever you need a perfect writer's spot, come to this room. It's wonderful.

So. THAT was nerve-wracking. And exaperating. My second weekend in a row spent around the hospital.

But the thing that's really on my nerves* is the fact that I'm launching a web-based serial science fiction story tomorrow, Monday, August 20th. I had a lot of publicity planned around the first episode, and sadly a lot of it was cut short by trying to organize things from the hospital. Still, a couple of sites will make mention of it's launch, and I'm once again writing on the internet. I'm very nervous. The last time I did a web serial was maybe 2001, and it ended very badly for me.

Some good news, the artist I wanted onboard agreed. He didn't have to. I can't guarantee I'm going to make a single red cent for myself, or for the series, let alone for him. He signed on because he digs the story, and because we're friends. I found out that he signed on today, while I was at work. My wife called. I was very, very happy. I think every writer has an artist whom they click exactly with, and Christoffer Saar is mine. I'll give him a description of something and what he'll bring back is more accurate than what was in my head.

(For those of you AW'ers on here, remember when I was participating in that How To Write Comic Books thread, and I called in a favor with an artist who turned a one-page script of mine into a rough layout? That was Chris Saar.)

Also, this afternoon while at work, I wrote a short story. I really like it. I think I did some things with it that I hadn't done before, and I really nailed the emotion I was going for. One of those blessed few stories where what you picture in your head is actually less than what comes out on paper. Usually, it's the other way around. I never quite reach what I'm aiming for.

It's called Into Silence, Like A Shout. It's about 3,500 words long. It's on-purpose about as High Fantasy as a story can be, or rather, it's about High Fantasy. And several other things. I'm glad I finished it. If I'd had to come back to it, I never would have found the tone again. I'm very proud of it.

Okay, time to go hold my son, who is a wriggle-worm, and to sit around and be bustingly nervous about my series launch tomorrow.

I'll post a link to it in the morning. Check it out, please, please.

To Bore the Ever-Loving Shit Out Of You...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

As promised! *grin*

Here's my lengthy trip report!

Day One: Miami, Florida

We got up at 3 AM. Well... I got up at 3 AM. Hubby got up at 3:20, and it took us until almost 3:50 to get Son up. And we had to leave at 4, sharp. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with our roaring start. Son was cranky, but he did chill out on the ride to the airport. We got to the airport at 5:00 for our 6:00 flight. (We flew Delta on the way down to Miami.) We checked our bags without incident.We got to the gate and had a few minutes to sit around.

The guy at the counter was a complete moron. He told us there was a slight delay because there was a mechanical problem. "Hopefully it's not anything serious," he says into the loudspeaker.

WTH?? Idiot. He must have missed "Gloss Over Everything" Day at airline employee training. Then he announces that there's no working toilet on the plane, so use the restroom now. Turns out the mechanical problem was a faulty latch on the cargo hold. They fixed it, and away we went.

It was Son's first time flying and he was really nervous. I was trying to reassure him, while not admitting that I was a tad apprehensive myself. Some people should NOT be allowed to have access to loudspeakers.We finally took off at 6:30, with plenty of time to make our connection in Atlanta. Son decided flying was pretty cool. The clouds were huge and puffy and white against the perfect blue background. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Atlanta airport is HUGE. We went to our gate to wait for our connection, and I got to charge my cell phone. They have nifty stations set up - round tables with outlets so you can plug stuff in or work while you wait for your flight. They also had a Cinnabon, so guess what we had for breakfast!

The flight from Atlanta to Miami was a bit smoother... no idiots making announcements there! Unfortunately, Hubby & I both got really bad earaches. We each had one ear that just refused to pop and it hurt like hell. Not to mention not being able to hear right. Ugh.

Getting onto the ship was smooth as could be. Royal Caribbean is uber-organized and absolutely wonderful at making sure you're on VACATION. They keep all the paperwork and checking in stuff to a minimum. They now have a fabulous online checkin process, which I used, so we just had to go to the counter, show our ID and credit card (for on-board purchases) and we got our SeaPass cards and onto the ship we went.

We got on board and went right to our room to unload our carry-on stuff, which mysteriously got heavier and heavier by the minute. After we unloaded, we went up to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. Hubby & I both thought it was excellent, but Son was less than impressed. We went back to the room, where I took a cat-nap and they went off to explore the ship.We decided that since we only go on vacation every 5+ years, we were springing for the good room. I'm glad we did. We got a Junior Suite, which has its own bathroom and a private balcony. It was WELL worth the extra cost.

Around 2:00, there was a big thunderstorm that lasted about 2 1/2 hours. After it was done, it was absolutely beautiful! It took out all the humidity, and it was just lovely. On the hot side, but very comfortable!

At 4:30 we had the mandatory life jacket drill. Afterwards, we came back to the room to relax for a little bit. (Relax for the guys meant checking out the flat-screen TV in our room. For me, it meant digging out all the toiletries and putting our travel documents in a safe place.) We watched the ship pulling out of the dock and heading out into the ocean.

For dinner, we went to Johnny Rocket's. It was awesome. It's a little 50's style diner with jukeboxes on the tables and a red and chrome decor. Very fun! It reminded me a lot of Zimmie's (local diner that went out of business YEARS ago), which I miss tons!

In the evening, we walked around the ship and just hung out. Very low-key. We were back to the room and in bed by 9 because we were all exhausted and the dolphin encounter was first thing Tuesday morning, so we wanted to be rested up.

Day Two: Nassau, Bahamas

When I got up at 7, we were pulling into the dock. We got breakfast at the Windjammer (gotta love those buffets!) and then got ready to leave for our Dolphin Encounter on Blue Lagoon Island. We followed our tour guide out and - of course - she conveniently led us through a cluster of little merchants and shops and down a side street to a water ferry. We rode the ferry about 25 minutes to the island. We saw the Atlantis resort and lots of amazingly beautiful homes along the shore. The water was crystal clear, and you could see to the bottom. Very very cool.

We got to the island and walked down a little pier into the Dolphin Encounter. They split us into groups of 30 people, and then each group went onto a square platform in the water. Inside each square was a sort of "sidewalk" type platform. We sat around the square, just watching a few dolphins frolicking a few feet away. Awesome.

Our dolphin was Andy, but he was rather temperemental and didn't feel like interacting. All the dolphin activities are voluntary, which is cool, so we had to wait for another dolphin who was in the mood to interact. We got Goombay, who turned out to be perfect. He was really into being in the group, and we had an amazing time. First, they led each family onto the water platform, where we got a family picture with one of us getting a kiss from the dolphin. Son was a bit timid, so I got the kiss. *grin* The picture turned out awesome, I love love love it.

After the families were done, we were split into 3 groups of 10. We were in the first group. We all walked into the water on the platform and the trainer brought the dolphin around to each of us. We all hugged the dolphin and gave him a kiss, then we got to rub his back and his belly. Then we danced with him. It was so much fun! Son was still a bit timid, I think it was mostly because the water under our platform was deep and it was freaking him out.When our group of 10 was done, we got to leave the platform. We wandered around the gift shop and then out back to see the Sea Lions, who were hiding. Only one was lounging in the water. We went back through the gift shop and they had DVDs for sale of our group interacting. The DVDs were $58, so we decided to not buy it. We did, however, buy $59 worth of photos. (The minute we left, I regretted not buying the DVD. Turns out, you can order them online, so I ordered it. Now I'll have to pay an arm & a leg for shipping, but I don't care. Reverse buyer's remorse????)

We rode the ferry back to the dock. For some reason, it was rough, and I wasn't feeling so well by the time we got back to the dock. I got a massive headache, thanks to the rough ride and the high humidity. So we got back to the ship and I took a short nap. I felt a LOT better, so we went back on shore and checked out a ton of little shops. There was a Hard Rock Cafe, a Burger King, and a Subway. Not quite what I think of when I think "Bahamas".

Dinner in the Windjammer. Yum.

Day Three: CocoCay, Bahamas

Wow. The ocean in the Bahamas is the most amazing mixture of colors. And so clear you can almost see the bottom. In fact, in the more shallow areas, you can. It's just breathtaking.Today, we were anchored off the shore of CocoCay and had to take a ferry from the ship to the shore. We were the first off the boat, so we had some time to walk around before our Glass-bottom boat tour. I was really looking forward to seeing some colorful ocean life.

We chilled on lounge chairs while we waited. CocoCay is reserved for Royal Caribbean's private use only. It's basically a beachy extention of the ship. There are a handful of little shops and thousands of lounge chairs. And little else.

We weren't allowed to take any shells from the island, which was a bummer. Son and I found a ton of tiny little shells that would have been perfect for in the scrapbook, or in a little jar. Or something. But we did the Right Thing and didn't smuggle any back on board.

The glass bottom boat tour was a huge disappointment. I suppose it's my own fault for having such high expectations. I thought it would be a big boat. With a glass bottom. That you can look through. Crazy, I know. Turns out it's not. It's a 3-level boat with glass panels on the bottom deck. So we had to sit on the upper decks and take turns going below to see what we could see. Which was, not surprisingly, not much of anything. We saw a few starfish and some plants. And sand. Lots and lots of sand. Meh.

At the end of the tour, the boat pulled close to the shore and we fed bread crumbs to some colorful fish. That was pretty cool. The fish would actually jump out of the water trying to get the bread before all the other fish got to it.

Overall, it was just hot and crowded and lame. Won't be doing THAT again.

By the time we got back to the island, it was so miserable hot that we all had sweat just running down our faces and backs. Ick. We poked around the shops VERY briefly and hopped the first ferry we could back to the ship.

We grabbed some lunch and then I sat on the balcony to write in my journal. We were positioned perfectly! We were on the shady side of the ship, and there was a wonderful air going, so it was comfortable out there.

CocoCay was a fair disappointment for all of us. We decided that if we do that cruise again, we'll just stay on board for CocoCay. We were very much looking forward to the next day: Key West.

Day Four: Key West, Florida

We had high, high hopes for Key West, as it was our very favorite place when Hubby & I cruised 5 years ago.

As luck would have it, the captain announced that we would be arriving early and would have an extra hour and a half in Key West. Yay!

As MY luck would have it, we had to go through an on-board customs checkpoint before we could leave the ship.

Surprisingly, we had more good luck. We were supposed to be in the first group to go through customs, at 7:00 AM. We got there at about 6:45 and were probably about the tenth people in line. By 7, there were at least 100 people in line. So we got to zip right through. It was super easy - just show our ID and travel documents and off we went.

We got off the ship and walked around a little bit before coming back to the pier to meet up with our tour. We opted for a repeat of the tour we took last time: a Conch train tour of the island, plus a visit to the Aquarium and the Shipwreck Historeum. We ended up on the very last seat of the train, facing backwards, with zero shade in intense heat. Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite tour. It was okay, though. Still better than CocoCay. :oP

After the train ride, which lasted about an hour, we were dropped in Old Town, which is walking distance from the pier. We went through the aquarium and the Shipwreck Historeum, then climbed the tower. Oy. My legs were shaky til we climbed back down. #1, I hate heights, and #2, I'm waaaaay out of shape. And I was peeved because it was so crowded that we couldn't get a good picture of us with the ship in the background. Although I did get a decent one of just Hubby & Son.

We checked out a bunch of little shops, and watched the chickens walking around the sidewalks. Yes, chickens. And one mangy cat.

One thing I noticed - Even though it was hot and humid and muggy everywhere we were, there weren't any bugs.

Anyway. We walked around Key West and just had a wonderful time. We took lots of pictures with statues. Hubby's favorite was a scantily clad pirate woman with big boobs. LOL

Key West was just perfect for us - lots to see, but everything is just so laid back and we just took our time and did what we wanted to. We can't wait to go back!

Finally we went back on the ship. We had to get our stuff packed and set out for disembarking in the morning.We were slated to exit the ship at 7, so we would have to get up at 6 to get dressed and pack up the last of our carry-on stuff.

Day Five: Miami, Florida

I was up at 5 because I kept waking up, panicking that I had put our travel documents in our checked luggage. I forgot my glasses, so I had to put my contacts in to check the papers in my carry-on bag. (Yes, I'm blind as a bat.) Of course the docs were right where they should have been.

We were up and around and to the Windjammer at 6:30 for breakfast. Along with everyone else on the ship. We were slated to exit in the 7:00 - 7:15 time slot, so we ate fast and went back to the room to grab our carry-ons and do a last minute check to make sure we didn't leave anything behind.

We got off the ship and onto a bus to head to the Miami airport. We were at the airport by about 7:45. Our flight wasn't until 2:55.We gave our checked luggage over to the US Airways rep and headed for the terminal and settled in for a loooooong wait.

We noticed that all the US Air flights were late coming in and going out. Hmmm.At 2:40, they decided to tell us that our flight was behind. Way behind. Great. We had a 50 minute connection to start with. They tell us that there's no way we're making our connection, and they'll put us up in Charlotte, or they can get us to Philadelphia and put us up. No thanks. We want to go the heck HOME.

We got on the plane to Charlotte. We made up some time in the air, and had about 8 minutes to get from Concourse B-4 to Concourse E-18. They made an announcement to please let off passengers with Indianapolis connections because they had such a tight connection. WTH? It wasn't as tight as ours, by a longshot. Screw it, we jumped off with the Indy people. US Air had a cart waiting for the Indy people. Who had more time and not as far to go. And nothing for us. Bastards.

So we ran. Literally RAN through the Charlotte airport. We made it! They held the doors for us, and then about 2 minutes later another group ran in, gasping and looking as rough as we were.

I was so relieved I almost cried. We flew to Harrisburg. (Almost home!)

One of our bags did not.

They managed to screw up and put someone else's name on our one suitcase. That someone else was bound for Houston. W.T.H???

So we came home. I was livid. The woman in Harrisburg was a complete idiot with the attention span and listening comprehension of a maggot.

Our bag was finally delivered to our door Sunday night around 8:30. Hooray. Everything was intact and fine. I hope the souvinirs had a nice time in Houston.


I left a LOT out of the last section, mostly because I'm sick of bitching about US Air and how much they suck. I wouldn't fly them again if I got free round trip tickets. (Well... maybe if they were FREE...)

Instead, I'll focus on the good stuff, which there was a LOT of. Son was perfectly behaved during the airport debacle. (Not going to point out the hissy fits during the cruise though. Tuesday morning was the worst, but after that he was very good.)

Nassau was beautiful and we'd go back in a heartbeat. We would definitely do the dolphin encounter again, too.

Key West is just wonderful. We picked up one of those freebie real estate guides, and if I ever come into an extra $6 mil, we're moving to Key West.

Royal Caribbean is fantastic. I highly recommend a cruise to anyone. It's the perfect vacation. You just get to the ship and everything else is taken care of. Food around the clock - delicious food, and such a variety! They had several different ethnic tables to serve all the different people on board. Every Royal Caribbean employee we came in contact with was friendly and pleasant. Not a grouch in sight. ;o)

CocoCay... Meh. I could take it or leave it.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation. A much needed vaction. This has been a hard year for us, so it was great to be able to go and kick back and just not worry about anything. THAT is what a vacation should be. And it was.