Saturday, December 29, 2007

California Days

The trip to California has been interesting. On thursday, I drove up to Northridge to visit David Gerrold for a few hours. Despite picking the one day a week where I can't park in front of his house due to street cleaning ($50 parking ticket to prove it) the visit was productive.

We spoke a great deal about a project that is coming together for the film company, the details of which I'm not sure how free I am to discuss. (Unless you want to invest in the film, then we can talk.) We also discussed each others' current and future projects. He thought it a good idea that I am putting together a collection of my published fiction, so I am forging ahead with that project. He liked the premise of my upcoming novel. There are some other projects we discussed which I won't disclose for reasons of either confidentiality or jinx-prevention.

We also talked some about several of the Star Trek actors from the original series. That was interesting since I have never met any of them. Clearly his opinion of some of the actors is different from general opinion.

Yesterday we visited El Capitan theater on Hollywood Boulevard. We saw Disney's "Enchanted." After the film, there is an 'experience' on the lower floor where you can take pictures and the kids can play on movie-related play equipment.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monthly Update

Seems I only get on here once a month anymore. Too much life interferes with what I want to do. Anyway, here I sit in Fullerton, CA waiting for my wife and her cousin to return with dinner.

I've spent the past two months doing research for my next novel, Rigel Kentaurus. I had intended to start that back at the beginning of November, but the more I thought about it, the less comfortable I was using the plastic villians I had conjured up. Since these folks will show up again in future novels, I wanted to give them some depth. For that, I turned to a book that had been sitting on my shelf for several years, "History of the Goths." After reading the early history of the Gothic tribes through the third time Alaric was encircled by the Romans, then released, I have the aliens significantly more fleshed-out than I had them in October. While I still have a large chunk of that book to finish, at least these antagonists now have a name.

They are a mish-mash of Gothic, Hunnic, Roman, and original. I took to the sound of the area in Europe called Thrace, and that is what I named these aliens. I am now sketching a history of the conflict between the Thrace and the Betels, the other major race in my future history. As things develop, I will post updates here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Month Do slip By

Has it been almost a month since my last post? Wow.

News on the home front. Reanna won a gold medal in a piano sonatina competition. Audrey didn't fare so well there, and she botched her flute solo yesterday, so has nothing but a bronze piano medal to show for it. In all fairness, the piano piece she selected was extremely difficult, and her accompanist for the flute competition was not her usual piano player. All part of growing as a musician. One side note that makes her feel better, Audrey wona piccolo in the raffle.

On the writing front, I had another story accepted by "The Written Word." No, er, word yet on when it will appear.

The next novel is stuck in neutral. I'm having a lot of second thoughts about the story line, the aliens, the humans, and their relationships. Since this is the launch episode of a loosely-connected multi-volume story arc, it has to be right. The new version is starting to come together, but I have no idea how long it will be before I can really start.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Back to work today. Things haven't boiled over, but nothing has changed, either. I have plenty more vacation days to use before the end of the year, and I intend to take most of them.

Things could be worse, I suppose. In spring of 2006, I interviewed for a position in San Diego and went looking at houses the next day. Now, I have to wonder if the houses I look at are still standing. I know there were some evacuations in Powey. One Poway house in particular I remember very well. In retrospect, it seems very susceptable to this kind of firestorm. I have to wonder if I would be sleeping in Qualcomm Stadium tonight if I had ended up in that job.

On the writing front, I got an interesting personal rejection from Stan Schmidt at Analog. It's been several in a row now that I've been told the story either "isn't bad" or "pretty good." This last one seems just to be off-target.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alas, Back to Work

I burned two days of vacation this week, just because. Sometimes you just need to get out of the office. I spent the two days here at Entropy Central with the kids in school. Well, the two days are gone and I go back in the morning. I got very little done, not for lack of trying.

I did manage to get the oven cleaned, and I got part of the wireless network working, the laptop but not the kids' computer. It shows up on the network but doesn't access anything. Aargh.

I did manage to finish that short story last saturday at the Ice Den, and I'm fairly happy with it. It's called Plan R. It's the story I plan to submit for the ASU writers conference this coming February. Finished with that, yesterday I started from scratch a story I had been spinning my wheels on for a few months, and it finally seems to be gaining traction. This story is set on Europa--much of it in submarines underneath the ice. Should be a fun story, not looking to be short, either. I had to keep Plan R under 15 pages for the writers conference. I have no such limitation on this one. It will be my Writers of the Future entry for Q108.

Once I finish that one, I will begin work on my next novel, Rigel Kentaurus. More about that another time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Icing the Puck

Here I sit at the Alltel Ice Den as my three lovely urchins glide, glide, and sway at Radio Disney night. Okay, my son is more likely doing a glide, slip and crash, but they have fun. I decided to try to finish the short story I started last monday, so here I am making a blog entry.

The Ice Den is the hippest spot in town if you are 11. It's the place to see and to be seen, if you're 11. I managed to snag the only table next to an outlet, so I have power, and this place is a hot spot (as is the adjoining Peter Piper Pizza), so I have internet.

I've been switching back and forth between the story and this blog post, depending upon which catches my fancy at any given time.

News on the home front, we bought Reanna a snare drum today. She's asking for a drum set for Christmas, but she's got percussion lessons now. She does the drum parts on a practice pad, but she really needs a drum, especially to get the feel for drum rolls. She really loves drums, and as irritating as the practice repetition can be, we have to encourage her.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rush Rediscovery

About nine months ago, my daughter, the clarinet player, needed some uncommon oral surgery. As a result, she had to stop playing clarinet in the elementary school band. She changed to percussion, spending the last semester of 5th grade playing the big bass drum.

Over the summer, we got her playing glockenspiel (bells) and she started taking lessons. She has played on vibraphone and marimba, and then takes the last few minutes working on drums. Now, it looks like she will become a full-fledged drummer. Last night, she made this comment: The more I work on drum set, the more interesting it becomes.

As a result of her interest in drums, I introduced her to the work of one Neil Peart, the drummer of a group called Rush. Perhaps you've heard of them.

This got me back to listening to Rush. I just don't get tired of them. Moving Pictures is one of those rare albums without a bad track. People generally either love or hate Rush. You know where I stand.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Finally Did It

Almost exactly three years ago, in October of 2004, I once again started writing my first novel. The reason this iteration stands out is that I actually finished it. I called it finished in April of 2005, length, 74500 words. The day I decided to finish the project no matter what is the day I mark as taking this craft seriously. We can call that day October 1st because I don't remember the exact date.

For various reasons, I never submitted this novel anywhere. From April 2005 through December of 2006, I concentrated exclusively on short fiction, with a week interruption for Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp where I generated a short story that is really chapter one of a novel I plan to attack in a few years.

I joined Codex writers group shortly after that and became part of a community of great emerging writers, most of whom have far more skill with this language than I can ever hope to have. Still, I learned enough that I realized the dormant novel had a lot of problems, including some issues that Orson Scott Card and David Gerrold independently identified from the outline alone.

In January of 2007, I started redrafting the novel, that is, starting again from scratch. I cut one full story line and finished in June of 2007 with 115,000 words. Double the word count with less story. Why? I am a better writer than I was in 2004.

Here it is, October 2007, almost exactly three years since I started that novel, and started taking my craft seriously. I now have a SFWA eligible pro sale, a second sale at pro rates, 19 stories total in publication or forthcoming, and I finally submitted my novel, Neanderthal Swan Song, to Baen this week. I believe I am a much better writer of long fiction than of short fiction, so we'll see.

I have two short fiction projects remining that I hope to finish this month, a short story of about 2000 words for the ASU writers conference that's coming in February, and something new for the Writers of the Future contest. After that, it's onward to my next novel--the beginning of my series of loosly connected future history stand-alones that sees Earth drawn into a million-year-old interstellar war. It has a very important tie back to Neanderthal Swan Song, but no spoilers here.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Monday Morning Compliments

On monday, Vylar Kaftan posted this on her blog.

I noticed that nobody responded for several days and posted this in response:

Funny. No takers.

To which she replied as advertised:

Rick, I admire the way you’ve committed to your writing despite such incredible time pressures. I’m astounded by how much you manage to get done without much time in which to do it. Kudos to you.

So let's talk about that for a little bit. Lack of time is the worst excuse for not writing because if it is important to you, you will find or make the time.

I'm saturated. I have my hands full with a full-time engineering job that includes conference calls to other parts of the world at odd hours. I have 3 kids who all seem to have a crisis at the same times. I have a geriatric mother-in-law in the house who needs help getting dressed and using the facilities. I have a wife who just had elbow surgery and can't lift more than 3 pounds with that arm right now. I get up at 5:00am have an activity almost every night. Many nights, I don't start writing until 9:00PM or later. Sometimes, I'm just too tired.

That said, I wrote a 115,000-word novel, a project I started a week before my mother-in-law broke her hip. I've written 11-1/2 short stories this year, totalling over 30,000 words. I'm half way through a collaborative project that sits at 4500-words half finished. I wrote a screenplay outline. I sold 13 short stories in the past year by keeping at least 90% of my inventory in submission at all times.

And no, I don't write at work.

Not enough time is an excuse I don't buy. I don't have enough time to write. I have time pressures that would make most people quit writing, but look what I did this year.

Am I satisfied with those results? No. I've achieved only about half my goal for the year. I wanted 2 novels, one screenplay outline, four short stories, plus a collaborated short story. I won't finish the second novel, but I will make serious progress. I wanted 300,000 words, I'll be lucky to hit 200,000. But I'm much closer to my goal than I was in January, and I have a novel that I finished under extremely difficult conditions.

And Vylar, I admire the way you can weave words together and make your prose sound like poetry.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kilgore Trout

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a copy of Venus on the Half Shell by Kilgore Trout. Trout is, of course, the fictional SF writer who appears in the stories of Kurt Vonnegut. Venus on a Half-Shell was, in reality, written by Philip Jose Farmer, with the (mixed) blessings of Vonnegut.

Farmer is one of the most under-recognized writers of the genre. I haven't read much of the book yet, but it reads much like Vonnegut at his best. This should be a fun excursion from all the serious fiction I've read lately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still Singin' the DSL Blues

As the disasterous conversion to the Quest package continues, I await my second appointment with the Direct TV guy, who wrecked three cars and wasted 4 hours of my precious vacation time when his ladder flew off his truck on the freeway. Another 4 hours thiscoming friday and hopefully I'll have that installed.

With help from my ISP, we finally got the DSL line connected to internet, but for some reason, I can't see any web sites hosted at my ISP. Well, little victories, anyway.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

DSL Blues

Turn around and suddenly it'd been 4 days since my last post. We went out today to get power of attorney taken care of for Grandma. It's something that's long over-due and would have saved us a lot of trouble had we done it before the broken hip. Still, it feels better to have it done now.

No real news on the writing front. A couple of stories back, and sent out again. the big issue now is the disasterous conversion from dial-up to DSL/Qwest long distance/Direct TV.

I won't go into the whole headache, but today's adventure was my first attempt to connect to DSL. No signal. This is on the same line that had a broken wire the first time we tried to change. Sigh, tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.

The pool is turning green yet again. I can't seem to kill that algea even after the second chemical attack. It's looking more and more like a complete draining over the winter. I don't like buying an extra 17,500 gallons, but it will probably be cheaper than constantly killing algea.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CopperCon 27

We woke up early this morning to the dog barking, and found Grandma on the floor by the front door. "I just arrived," she said. I'll probably never know how she got to the front door without her walker, but there she was. Senility with convelescence and incontinence is not a pretty thing.

I attended CopperCon 27 this past weeekend. The guests of honor were Charlene Harris and Michael A. Stackpole. I had opportunity to chat with both.

Saturday marked my first experience as a panelist. I had three: "Humor in the Genre" with Bennie Grezlik and David Brown, "Big Ideas Were Our Mainstay," with Michael Contos and Bennie Grezlik, and "Publishing Short Stories," with Jack Mangan and David Lee Summers.

The first panel was a disaster. One of them decided to read an essay he wrote about humor rather than use if for notes to spur impromptu discussion, the other wanted to read one of his own stories. Not good. I was getting bored and I sat at the table in front. Making it even more painful, Charlene Harris was in the audience. I mentioned this to Michael Stackpole and he agreed with me, never read your own work at a panal.

The second one was a little better. Nobody read, at least. It turned out to be a fairly good discussion that covered a lot of ground.

The third panal was the most fun, and it drew, by far, the largest audience. We had almost 20 people show up, compared to the average panal attendence of about 6. Jack, David, and I all know each other. David is editor of "Tales of the Talisman," and both Jack and I have appeared in that magazine, so we had that in common, as well. Any writer with a track record would have sat in the back nodding to everything we said--it's all common knowledge to people who have been writing for a while. New writers, however, don't know these things, and have to hear them somewhere. It went over pretty well, and all three of us were pleased with the result. After the panal, I signed my first story. It was the story that appears in this month's "Tales of the Talisman" for a woman who bought the issue from David right after the panal. My first official autograph!

Later on Saturday, I watched the masquerade, where the costume people compete. I'm not really into that aspect, but everyone else was there. While the costume judges went to deliberate, they brought out the instruments for filk (singing songs written about works of fiction). I'm not into costumes, but I'm even less into filk.

On sunday, I attended only to see Stackpole's discussion "21 Days to a Novel." Very good stuff. Realize that at this stage of my writing career, I already have established methods and habits, so I always look at these things with the attitude of take what you will work for me and ignore the rest. Not everything he said will help me, but he did present a lot of ideas for generating a story that I can use, and I took away more than average. I'll be working with Stackpole again this coming February at the 2008 ASU Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.

All-in-all, a good experience for a minor con.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interesting Statistics

The current issue of Locus has the results of their annual survey. In the reading section, they asked about what types of SF and fantasy their respondants liked. The speculative genre seems to be doing better across the board.

Under the Do you like... question,
SF hit 90% for the first time, up 3% over last year.
Fantasy hit 77%, up 2% over last year.
Horror hit 50%, up 3%.
Other at 18%, up 4%.

Type of SF:
Adventure 63%, up 1%.
Social Science 63%, up 6%
Hard science, 57%, up 2% possibly a reversal from years past.

Interestingly enough, fantasy doesn't show the 2% increase when categorized.
High/Heroic 52% down 2%
Humorous 47%, up 1%
Romantic 21%, down 1%.

Is this anything on which to draw a conclusion? Perhaps, but I suspect the responses are all within the (unreported) margin of error, with the possible exception of social science fiction. Consider, also, that the yes answer to "Does SF form the major part of your reading pleasure?" dropped by a percent to 80%.

It's difficult to draw any conclusion from a survey by a magazine that is effectively the spec fic writers trade magazine, where mostly writers respond (though not as many as you might think--only 54% of responders listed writing/editing as a primary or secondary occupation). Still, I like the trend. Fantasy has had its way with readers for long enough.

Time for an SF revival!

Monday, September 03, 2007

End of Drought

I finally made another sale after a 3-month drought. Tales of the Talisman purchased my story The Great Basilisk Race. This is the first time I intentionally wrote a fantasy story, though frankly, it could have been set in any genre. It is slated to appear in the June 2008 issue. This will be my second story to appear in TOTT, the first appearing this month. The editor promised my contributor copy personally delivered at Coppercon this coming weekend.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

I decided to tackle the green pool today. For those not following along, in July of 2006 my pump broke. I was told 2 days to repair it, but the two days turned into ten. You don't leave a pool uncirculating for 10 days in Phoenix during the summer. A bad case of algea developed that I have been battling ever since.

Last winter, I thought I had it licked. This summer being particularly hot, it came back with a vengeance. I spent weeks trying to kill it with chlorine to no avail. Come July, I went nuclear, bombing the pool with algecide. It killed the algea off, and the pool was blue again. Come August, the algea was back. With all the extremely hot days at 110 degrees or hotter, it got to the point I couldn't see the bottom of the deep end.

Today, I nuked the pool again, with different chemistry. If this doesn't work, I'll have to drain the thing this winter.

On the fiction front, story and world building continue on the collaboration project. I've been lazy about putting down words for the Halloween contest story. I made the mistake of leaving it on the laptop, and that makes it difficult to get started except at night.

Last night, I managed to get the last of my stagnant stories out the door, so I have all 36 deployed right now. A few subs are getting out there, including one that's coming up on a year. Patience, patience.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Imperfect Beasts

Sometimes, I just don't know what I was thinking when we had kids. You spend at work the friday before Labor Day dealing with a customer representitive who is not at all pleasant to work with, then come home to kids that fight. They can't help with the laundry without getting into a fight--today it was a fistfight. My hair would be turning gray if it wasn't already turning gray.

After fixing the sprinklers in the front yard last weekend, I ran them excessively all week. Some of the grass is starting to fill in, but I suspect teh front won't look decent until after I overseed with rye grass once the temperature drops enough. Yesterday was 111 again, so we're up to 31 days over 110 degrees. Fun, fun.

The collaboration with my assigned partner is coming along fine. We have a premise and the idea is beginning to solidify. This will be a fun story.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Today, I finally registered for the 2008 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference at Arizona State University. Orson Scott Card and Michael Stackpole are on faculty this time. OSC is teaching a class, and Stackpole is teaching the genre small group (workshopping) session.

I've wanted to meet Michael Stackpole for a long time because he is local to me. I was a student of OSC in 2005 when I attended his literary boot camp in Orem, Utah.

In other news, the Codex Writers Group is holding a captive contest. This one is a collaboration contest. There are 6 pairs of writers who have never worked together before trying to create some new genius. We have Writers of the Future winners, a Campbell Award nominee, and writers who have appeared in all the major genre magazines. I must confess that I'm thrilled with the writer I was matched with, but I won't yet say who this is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dark and Light?

I've noticed something since I started writing--dark fiction seems to sell. Markets that specifiy dark fiction seem outnumber the others by a significant margin. It gets me wondering why.

This train of thought was brought about by some comments on the Darker Matter web site about my story Chaos Theory. This comment was made:

Wonderful story. I'm not at all disappointed that he didn't indulge in his darker side, although I'd expect to see stories of a darker nature in Darker Matter.

Followed by this from the editor:

It's an interesting point. I think Chaos Theory is almost certainly the least dark story DM has published so far. I was conscious of that when I chose it, but I enjoyed it so much I couldn't resist. It's also worth pointing out that the name "Darker Matter" is not intended to indicate that the magazine only publishes dark stories - it's just a bias.

All of which has me wondering if the readers out in general public (read non-writer readers) really want all the dark fiction that is available. I honestly don't know. My fiction tends to be the opposite of dark, that is, hopeful. I don't say light because that implies humor. While some of what I write is humorous, even slapstick, dramas still predominate. In my stories, the good guy almost always wins. Even today, when my own life is in a shambles and stress attacks from every direction, my fiction betrays me. I'm an optimistic person, and my fiction reflects it.

My impression is that my work is well received by readers who don't write. Even my darkest of stories, Oh, Mallary! ends with the main character at peace with himself. It seems I'm not wired to write dark fiction, in the same way I'm not wired to write literary. Utilitarian and fun, that's me.

It begs the question of what people really like to read. I don't think that is necessarily reflected by what editors buy, especially in short fiction. What do readers generally want from a read? It used to be escape. During the Great Deprssion and World War II, people wanted to get away from reality.

That sense of escape, though certainly still available, seems to have taken a back seat to literary credibility, as demonstrated by Harlan Ellison. You would be hard-pressed to find more talented master of the English language than Ellison, yet his fiction takes work to read. Drugs and pushing the boundaries were the word of the day.

Today, there really aren't any taboos left to break. What worked as a Dangerous Vision in 1968 isn't worth a blink today. If the literary way is the right way, why is J.K. Rowling wealthier than the Queen of England? Why? Harry Potter is fun. It's escapism.

I've been told on a number of occasions that a story of mine was fun to read, and not always the same story. That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. What more could a writer want than to give the reader something fun? Why, then, is so much dark fiction out there?

Is today's science fiction, as a genre, too literary and pessimistic? Has it fallen far behind fantasy because that is now where the reader can have fun?

I think the pendulum is moving back in the direction of fun, and I submit the recent popularity of space opera as my example. Big, preposterous, and perhaps a bit melodramatic, but definitely fun.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Respite is Over

So much for our sub-hundred-degree days. Today and yesterday, the remnants of Hurricane Dean came roaring through the desert, leaving nary a drop of water on the ground, but plenty of humidity in the air. It also dropped our temperatures below 100 degrees for the weekend. We go back to 103 tomorrow, and upwards of 110 by the middle of the week.

We're one day short of tying the all-time record of 28 days at or above 110 degrees. We're this close, we might as well break it. We came pretty close already, several days at 109, but not enough to push us over the top. Such is the fate of a desert rat.

In other news, this weekend, my son told me he now likes Rush. "That guy's voice (Geddy Lee) is weird." My daughter, the newly-minted percussionist, also likes to watch my Rush DVDs so she can watch Neal Peart drumming. My oldest is too interested in painting her nails and shopping for shoes to care.

The short fiction sale drought continues. After 12 since December, it's been almost three months since my last sale. It's a crazy-bizarre business, writing is. Some of the stuff from the past six months is now coming to print. I've got my Tales of the Talisman story coming out in a couple of weeks. I'll see the editor, David Lee Summers, at Coppercon in two weeks. In the mean time, I need to find new markets for a couple of stories that came back. One is a novelette, and they're always hard to place.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Woahs of Homeownership

Sometimes, owning a home makes renting look attractive. Take this weekend, for instance. I got home from work friday, looking forward to taking my daughter to her percussion lesson and spending that half hour with Mr. Heinlein. Instead, I discovered $500 worth of air conditioner parts blew out. With a 109-degree day and an 88-year-old woman in the house, it had to be fixed. I stayed home and watched the repair guy.

The pool is green again, still having algea problems from last year when that numb-nuts repair guy underestimated the repair time of my pump by 8 days. Thought I had it licked this July, but the algea has come back with a vengeance during this hot, hot August. It's looking more and more like I'll need to drain the thing completely this winter. What a sinful waste of water in the desert.

Speaking of wasting water in the desert, I spent this morning replacing the guts of the solenoid valve that controls the front yard irrigation, then digging holes to replace a couple of sprinkler heads.

Haven't done much writing in the past few days between life events, home repairs, and help with homework. Mailbag recently, got back a couple of stories I don't know where to send next. One from Zahir, one from American Short Fiction.

The ASF sub was one of my few non-speculative offerings. Unfortunately for the story, I write more utilitarian than literary. That's a good thing, for the most part. I don't really do literary, it's not me. Not a lot of popular fiction can be called great literature, but it certainly makes people happy. Satisfying the reader is more important to me than becoming one of the greats of American literature. That's not going to happen, my prose is too transparent because I try to keep out of the way of the story. My fiction is not about me, it's about entertainment. If you enjoy the story, I consider it a great success.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Coppercon Schedule

Here is my schedule of appearances at Coppercon 27 September 7,8,9 at the Embassy Suites North on the southeast corner of I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) and Greenway. This is my only convention for 2007.

My agenda is all Saturday.

Sat 10a-11a Suite D Humor in the Genre
with Bennie Grezlik (moderator), David Brown

Sat 2p-3p Suite E Big Ideas Were Our Mainstay
with Michael Contos (moderator), Bennie Grezlik

Sat 3p-4p Suite E Publishing Short Stories
with David Lee Summers (moderator), Jack Mangan

Sat 5p-530p Room 1123 Reading “Hole in the Wall”

HUMOR IN THE GENRE. What does it take to write successful humor? Is it in jokes? Wry observations by a character? Situational comedy?

BIG IDEAS WERE OUR MAINSTAY. It was the grand vision of space exploration that fueled our early science fiction. Does it still have an appeal or have we beat it to death? Are there any other grand visions out there that have universal appeal?

PUBLISHING SHORT STORIES: The first one is the hardest. Are you writing and unpublished? Two fiction writers and an editor discuss breaking into the short fiction market. They will discuss marketing techniques that work, what editors look for in a submission and other advice to help you on the road to publication.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Domestic Port???

Well, speak about not hearing back on submissions publicly in a blog and what happens? Two rejections within a few hours.

Spent some time working on the short story mentioned a few days ago. Made some little progress today.

It struck me that i my last post, I never wrote anything related to the title. Domestic Port. I'm working my way through a bottle of Christian Brothers ruby port. Technically, it isn't truly port because it's not Portuguese, but what can I say, it was on clearance. Ruby port is a bit sweet for my taste. All I can say is that it tastes a heck of a lot better than Christian Brothers cream sherry. I tried a bottle of that while I was still feeling my way around wine land. That stuff was enough to make me gag.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Domestic Port

Today was the first day in about a million years that I didn't leave the house. Grandma fell again, though adamantly she denies falling. Russell found her collapsed on the bathroom floor inthe doorway under the walker. I guess she found a comfortable place to have a seat.

I did get some work done, as in 1250 words on a new short story. It's involved in a captive Halloween contest on Codex Writers Group. I can't give any details as this is a blind contest. All I'll say is that there are hints of home.

Mail bag is still empty. It's been 9 days since my last rejection. Considering I have 34 stories in the market, that's a pretty long time. (I have 36 available, but I'm waiting on a response of one before I decide where to send the other two.)

The last one out the door was a new one called "Swirling Beneath One Thin Ring," which I sent to George Scithers at Cat Tales. Though I've already sold my obigatory cat story to The Written Word, I wrote another one. It's about a genetically enhanced cat working on a gas mine at Jupiter. It's in first perons and written in the form of a journal.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


The family is settling in for another school year. Audrey is in honor band at Desert Shadows Middle School. She's playing flute and piccolo.

Reanna changed instruments after her oral surgery. She stopped playing clarinet and is now a percussionist. She started lessons with glockenspiel a few weeks ago. Looks like we may have started something because for three years there were no bell players at Sonorn Sky Elementary. I asked the band teacher to see if she could get one in the classroom so Reanna doesn't have to carry hers on the bus as it's quite heavy for a little girl. Suddenly this year, the beginner band percussion students MUST start on bells. Go figure.

Russell finally gets to join band. The school district dropped 4th grade band last year. He'll be playing cornet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New SFWA Market

I heard from the editor of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show that they are now a SFWA approved professional market, retroactive to issue #1. I mail my application for associate membership tomorrow morning. Two more sales for full membership.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New Story Out

My story "Oh, Mallary!" is now live and available for free at The Martian Wave.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Novel Completed

I finished my redraft of Neanderthal Swan Song friday evening. The revision I finished in spring of 2005 was around 74,000 words. The one I finished this year ended at around 114,500 words. The question came up about how I managed to write 50% more when I killed a subplot. The answer is simply that I am a better writer now.

I'm taking a few days off from the novel before I do my read-through and corrections. In the mean time, I have a backlog of short stories to write.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Book Review - Bitterwood

Book Review: James Maxey's Bitterwood

I recently had the opportunity to acquire my first uncorrected proof of a novel before its release. The novel is Bitterwood, by James Maxey. I thought I'd share my reaction to this book with you.

If you like dragons, this story will be a treat. On the surface, it's a fantasy involving dragon kingdoms, wizards, and subservient humans. Dig a little deeper and Maxey explains the dragons and all the magic with future history and scientific advancements. Even more to the point, the story is one of bitterness and anger, love and joy, tenacity and jealousy, and a bit of obsession.

The story begins as a prologue in the year 1070 of the Dragon Age, in the 39th year of the reign of Albekizan, a ruthless sun dragon. It begins the story of Bant Bitterwood, a human who ultimately becomes obsessed with killing all dragons, and as a result, becomes something of a living legend across humanity.

As the story gets going, King Albekizan is preparing his sons for succession. In trying to keep to a minimum of spoilers, I'll just say that Bant Bitterwood interferes, and that had the ramification of Albekizan becoming motivated to kill every last human, just as Bitterwood has sworn to kill every last dragon.

Maxey manages to build several sides to the conflict. He uses almost everyone's point of view at one time or another, a little more than I would prefer, but he does it to great effect. By doing this, he lets the reader see the whole story. We get inside for a taste of rage, jealousy, intrigue, backstabbing, love, hate, mixed emotions, and loss of hope.

Bitterwood, published by Solaris Books, is Maxey's second novel. His first novel is Nobody Gets the Girl (Phobos Books, 2003). It's been a long struggle for Maxey, who attended the Odyssey Writers Workshop a number of years ago, and almost quit writing after receiving a critique from Harlan Ellison. Maxey didn't quit. After publishing a short story in a major fiction market several years later, he received a congratulatory call from the same Harlan Ellison. Harlan told Maxey that he made it. Bitterwood is more evidence in his favor.

Maxey has a clean style that makes his prose very readable, and his language is approachable by the average Joe. He weaves a clever tale with a style that reminds me of Arizona's own Alan Dean Foster. It makes for a smooth ride and a book that holds the reader's interest to the end.

Bitterwood will be released in July of 2007.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Chaos Theory is Live

My story Chaos Theory went live at Darker Matter on June 1st.

You can read it for free right here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sale - Contractual Obligation

Wow. I finally found a home for the most travelled and the second-oldest story in my inventory. Sells in its 23rd market. It's been on the market constantly since October of 2004. Here's where it's been:

Weird Tales
The Iconoclast
Short Stuff Magazine
Alien Skin
Story House Coffee
Son and Foe
Cabinet Des Fees
The Pedestal
Flash Me
Lone Star Stories
The Dream People
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
A Tangled Script of Intangible Soul Engravings
All Possible Worlds
The Shantytown Anomaly
Space Squid
Sybil's Garage
Chimaera Serials
The Written Word

The Written Word bought the story. No word, written or otherwise, on when it will appear.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Fun Little Quiz

See if this quiz can accurately detect your accent. I'm originanlly from Wisconsin and live in Arizona, so I think this quiz averaged my accents together.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


("Midland" is not necessarily the same thing as "Midwest") The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it's a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn't mean you're from the Midland.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Free Fiction

A bit of a disagreement within SFWA has lead to Monday, 23 April, being dubbed International Pixel-Stained Tehnopeasant Day. It stems from a disagreement about posting work in the internet for free. I'll not go into the sordid details. If you really want to know, you can google it.

What does this mean for you? Many writers will be posting free work online. If you'd like to read mine, click the link at right to go to my home page. You'll find my story What a Difference a Day Makes there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two More Sales

Heard friday that the new online magazine "Darker Matter" wants my story "Chaos Theory" for issue 4. Heard today that online magazine "The Martian Wave" wants my story "Oh, Mallary!" I'll post when they are available as both are free publications.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Story Live at Alien Skin

My flash parody went live this evening at Alien Skin magazine.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Aargh! I've been infected with a virus that emails spam. Norton detects a dozen emails at a time, most of them caught either by Norton or my ISP. Still being stuck on dial-up probably saved me from hundreds of Japanese spam filter lists. That seems to be where most of the spam is headed.

Still, randomly it happens with my email software closed. Norton can't catch it. Windows detects something on startup, but the Microsoft virus software can't find it. I'm looking at having to format my hard drive.

There are advantages to that option. I have trouble with my CD-Rom drive also. Can't install any software. Fortunately, I have a laptop. Unfortunately, it has no anti-virus software. This may be a long-term project with convincing yet again all the software manufacturers that I'm reinstalling, not pirating. Oi.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Feature on Web Site

I just added a feature to the bibliography page on my web site. After each fiction listing, there is now a hyperlink called Info. Click on the link and you will be taken to a page that provides the details fo the story, an excerpt, quotes from any reviews, and a little bit of the story behind the story.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sale - Kfzhrbfl

Alien Skin magazine accepted my story "Kfzhrbfl" for their April/May 2007 issue. It's a goofy little flash fiction piece that probably found the right home. It's also the goofiest title I've ever used.

The story is something of a parody on neophyte science fiction writers, who tend to give aliens unpronoucable names. I'll post the link when the issue is out.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two more shorts out

Finished two of the three short stories I had been working on. One went to Analog, the other went to Asimov's.

The interesting thing I tried this time was writing inside the universe where my novels take place. One story involves Ike Mudge, the Neanderthal clone. In fact, it's a novel excerpt, except I haven't written that chapter yet. Hopefully, the short stands on its own. The other story is an action story about Ike's son, Kinji.

The other short I have in progres is a modern horror story. It's my first real attempt at writing a pure horror story, and so far, I'm pleased with it.

I just started a sequel to The Adjoa Gambit, my story that appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show back in October. Between the two when-I-have-time shorts and the novel, I'm keeping busy. Added another 2000 words to the novel this evening. I'm up to 46,000 words. Considering the original version of this novel only hit 74,000 words, I'm definitely adding word count this draft. I still expect to hit 120,000 by the time it's finished.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Finally reviewed

Tangent Online finally reviewed issue #3 of Intergalactic Medicine Show. You can find it here. It's not a bad review, it's not a good review. It's a book report. Still, it's nice to have good things said about the characters.

Little Adjoa has a grasp of "headology" that Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax would approve of. I think the Procs are in for a rough time.

Seems like the reviewer, Janice Clark, is expecting more Adjoa. I have considered writing a sequel and will probably do it eventually. The story I have in mind will be considerably different than The Adjoa Gambit, darker and perhaps less certain in the outcome. Definitely more dangerous.

We'll see when I get to it. I have three short stories in progress at the moment, in addition to the novel in progress.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Challenge - Preamble

My friend and fellow Codexian writer James Maxey tagged me in a chain cascade to post five things few people know about me. I need to put some thought into this one, so while I do that, I thought I'd participate in something that some other Codexians are doing. Alliette de Bodard started things, but I discovered this on Mary Robinette Kowal's blog (linked at right). We're posting the first line of our last five stories.

"It is incredible how one person can have so much influence over the success or failure of an organization." from The Mysterious Marcus Sedrik

"Costanze Mozart looked out the carriage window at the fireball racing through the twilight sky." - from K.622

"Transmissions from Earth took forever to get to the asteroid belt." - Oh! Mallary!

"Ted Barlow pulled into one of the few cleared spots in the plowed area near the main observatory building on top of Mount Hamilton." - from Flare: Lick Observatory

"It's funny how everything seemed so peaceful as the timer counted down to flip-over." - from A Nice Day for a Walk

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fiction Sale

I just sold my short story "Magnetic Monopoly" to David Lee Summers at Tales of the Talisman. The story should appear in the September '07 issue.

The story was a Writers of the Future quarter finalist, and was written as part of a captive contest for the writers group Codex.

I met David Lee Summers at Coppercon 26 (fall of '06) and we got along pretty well. Networking is essential in this business, but DLS wouldn't have purchased the story if he didn't like it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reanna's Poem Goes Live

Check out my daughter Reanna's poem in Wee Ones magazine.

The cover page is here.

Direct link to her poem is here.

Fast out of the Gate

January first, I discovered that my story "The Cosmology" had been listed in the 2007 line-up at Another Realm. It should appear online in November. His 'zine is a one-man-show. This is an older story, and I think it will find this to be a good home.