Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Agent Search Continues (with some tips)

A while back, I talked about my novel submission coming back from Baen. I submitted it using their online submission process. I had already been waiting about ten months when I visited Alan Dean Foster's home. We discussed it for a few minutes, and he told me that he and his agent recently had discussions with Baen, and that Baen was only buying alt history and military SF. Since my novel is neither, I knew the manuscript would be rejected, it was just a matter of how long I had to wait.

I finally got the rejection in October. I decided to try the agent route instead of over-the-transom. My SFWA membership is worth the price for the SFWA directory alone. It lists who represents who, a priceless resource for somebody looking for an agent. You want to find somebody who represents similar writers, and you want a good filter to screen out the crooks. Chances are pretty good that if well-known-writer X is represented by agent Y, it's a legitimate operation.

Preparing the query package takes attention to detail. Every agent wants something different, but there is also a lot of overlap. For this novel, Neanderthal Swan Song, I prepared around a dozen files so I mostly have to just grab the ones I need and print them out. If I come across a new file, I'll make it and park it in the parent directory.

I then make a subdirectory for each agent an drop into that folder everything I send that agent's way. Most of it is mindless, but the cover letter (aka query letter) is not. Go look at this agent's blog, especially this entry. (For the record, I have not queried him.) Note the point about it being bad form to let him know who you queried before him.

Everyone knows you don't rewrite the cover letter from scratch, not since they invented the hard drive, anyway. Everyone recycles letters like this, but you have to go over that cover letter very carefully to ensure you spell the names right, you get the right enclosures listed, and correct any other legacy points that came from the last agent you queried.

So anyway, as I watched the Cardinals post 9-7 as their 2008 season record, I went over a list of 27 agents that I culled from the SFWA directory based on having a New York proximity (with one exception) and having at least one client with a name I recognized. I narrowed it down to my top picks and prepared 7 query packages this evening.

This business is a numbers game. Read about that aspect from a guy with 100 novels, Dean Wesley Smith. It took me a long time to start finding my niche markets with short fiction. I submitted to all the same markets that my writer friends sold to, but I never sold there because I don't write what those markets want. I write what different markets want. It's not a statement about whether that is better or worse, it's just different. The same goes for agents.

I won't repeat the stories of the writer whose manuscript was rejected 50 times then made millions of dollars on the 51st try. But it does happen. If you are competent, there is a market waiting for you. It's just a matter of trying to find it. That's a numbers game.

I sold 7 short stories in 2008. I was disappointed with my year (mostly due to all the distractions in my life) but another writer commented that he would be delighted to sell 7 stories in one year. But, I also collected almost 100 rejections to sell those 7 stories. Not everyone is Jay Lake, who claims to sell about 1 in 3 submissions. I'm not, but then, he's been at this game longer than I have. Maybe someday I will, too.

But, that isn't the point. The point is that you can't read an agent's mind from across the room, much less from 2000 miles away. So it has to be a numbers game. You don't know which agent will like your work enough to want to work for you. That means you have to find the ones you want to work with and work your way down the list, just like with marketing short fiction.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cold Front

Yes, yes, I know it's -17 degrees at International Falls. Still, a cold front moved through and it's supposd to stay in the mid to low 50s here in the valley of the sun. And I know that everyone back east and up north wishes they had this weather.

Still, when you get used to desert summers, the winters feel just as cold. It's particularly bad when you don't run the heater in the house. It's just plain chilly, with everyone wearing sweatshirts and warm socks.

At least the rain stopped for a while.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Future Fire

My short story, "A Rock by Any Other Name," is now live at The Future Fire. You can read it here, or first view the cover page and art here.

This from the Future Fire's manifesto:

This magazine is intended to showcase new writing in Social, Political, and Speculative, Cyber-fiction. No work will be turned away because of its genre or setting so long as it is good and original; dark, unexpected, exploratory, weird and says something important about the world.

It should be no surprise, then, that this story will be controversial, but I'll let you read it and decide. The story is published along side a lovely sketch of the angry soldier, drawn by G. Edwin Taylor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sale" Come to Slaughter, Pig

I just got word that AnotheRealm has purchased my short story "Come to Slaughter, Pig." This is the online magazine that awarded me the D.G.K. Goldberg award for my short story "The Cosmology," which appeared in December of 2007. No word yet on when this one will appear.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recital Time

Audrey and Reanna had their annual winter piano recital. See if you can determine who practiced more.


video


video

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What Gets My Gall?

In the December issue of the parent newsletter from the Paradise Valley Unified School District, there is a letter from the Superintendent. I wanted to excerpt part of that here then comment.

On November 4, voters in the PVUSD approved the continuation of the K-3 override, but defeated the Maintenance and Operation budget override. That will impact every employee in our district in some way.

We have work to do to make appropriate decisions for dealing with the loss of approximately $5 million in revenue from the Maintenance and Operations override...

Okay, so what's wrong with this statement? It helps if you understand what an override actually is. An override is permission to EXCEED the budget. So why the hell is PVUSD already making plans to spend money that by all rights they should be able to function without?

There are budget overrides on the ballot every year. How did we get into this cycle of depending on overrides? Every year the portion of my property tax that goes into PVUSD increases. Two years ago, every item in my property tax went down except PVUSD. That went up almost 20%, and yet they cut the band program for the 4th graders.

There is a fundamental flaw in the budgeting process for this school district. If the budget is too small to begin with, we should be working on using the political system, including ballot propositions, to restructure the PVUSD budget. Asking every year to exceed the budget not only makes it look as though the school district cannot handle the money it already has, it also leaves the real budget far too susceptable to downturns in the economy and the mood of the voting public.

Overrides are a bandage. We need a real solution, and it behooves PVUSD to address the real problem instead of begging the public to allow them to exceed the budget year after year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wow, don't Blink

Wow, a whole week went by without a post by me. Strange thing is, I didn't even realize it. so what happened this week? I put down a good 1500 words on the novel-in-progress. My son, Russell, earned the Boy Scout rank of Second Class 9 months after joining the troop. Last weekend we did the orienteering course and that went very well. I got busy at work again, but I took today off. I go t some gifts purchased, the few remaining cards out the door, and wrapped the kids' gifts so they can't peek. That about sums it up.

///

For those of us who grew up watching the original Star Trek, we lost a little bit today. Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away. In our fictional lives as in reality, one thing that sucks about getting older is losing friends. Nurse Chapel and the voice of the Enterprise computer passed with her.

///

The Codex Writers just started a news blog. You can find it here:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Spec Fic Writers Have a Heart

Not long ago, friends of speculative fiction writer Vera Nazarian began a drive to raise money to help her through some hard times. Friends contributed, and complete strangers (like me) also contributed. $5 or $10 times many many people = a much needed helping hand.

I won't go into all the details, but I did want to show you what a good group of people today's speculative fiction writers are. A lot of the action happened inside private forum in the SFWA area on sff.net, so I can't share the specifics of the discussion. What I can share with you is the outcome.

Gratitude.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Reading

If you live in the Phoenix metropolitan area and enjoy fiction, you might be interested in a joint reading from two writers groups. We'll be reading at 2:00PM on Sunday, December 14th at Dog Eared Pages Used Books. Here is the announcement from their mailer:

cid:image003.png@01C93B6B.85705200Sunday, December 14th 2:00 pm Jerry’s Writing Group has accepted the Flash-Challenge issued by Science Fiction Fantasy Writers (SFFW) and they will all be meeting to read their Flash Challenge Holiday Stories aloud here at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books. Join us for some original, fun holiday stories.

SFFW consists mostly of published writers (two of us are SFWA members, two more SFWA-eligible) and a few unpublished writers that survived our vetting. I know nothing about Jerry's writing group except that the owners of the store are part of it.

SFFW started these flash challenges (echoing the online writers group Liberty Hall) as a way to kick-start some writing. We had enough fun with the first one that we decided to do another one, this time holiday-themed. It will probably be something we do every 6 months. Whether we continue to do open readings will likely depend on the results of this coming sunday.

The challenge is to write a story in around 1000 words. When we meet to read them, it's just for pure entertainment. Unlike our usual meetings, there is no critique involved. If you are interested in attending, the address is below.

Dog-Eared Pages Used Books

16428 N 32nd Street Suite 111

Phoenix, AZ 85032

(602) 283-5423

www.DogEaredPagesUsedBooks.com

"Bringing affordable reading to our neighborhood"

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Running Amok

This quarter, Audrey has been participating in track at the middle school. Unlike academics and music, she has found something that she isn't particularly good at. Although she enjoys it and its definitely good exercise, she's not the athlete in the family.

The middle schools had the track and field festival yesterday, and Audrey ran in the 1600 meter, the 400 meter, and the 800 meter. In that order. She finished in the middle of the pack on the 1600, she had her best finish on the 400 meter taking 4th place. Her school took the top 4 spots in that heat. On the 800, which she ran maybe 15 minutes later, she finished near the back, but not last.

She runs with a steady pace from the start gun to the finish line, and her endurance is really pretty good. She just isn't that fast. But, she has fun and that's the important part. It's also good for her to compete in something where she is not among the best just to get some perspective. Hopefully, it will make her appreciate the talents she does have.

I must say. This was my first time as a spectator at a track and field event and I'm glad I brought a book.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Disoriented?

I took the day off work today ('tis the season to use or lose PTO) and drove down to Papago Park in Phoenix. We're going to take some of the younger boy scouts there next weekend to use the permanent orienteering course. I went to check it out.

I spent an hour trying to find a ranger so I could get the directions (ie, direction and distance to each marker) but it turns out they don't have anything published. I find that hard to believe, but maybe they just lost track of the document over the years. Regardless, I drove back to the orienteering course. yes, drove. It's a big park that contains around ten hiking trails, the Botanical Gardens, and the Phoenix Zoo.

I decided that I had to go find all the markers if we had any chance of bringing the boys out next weekend. Let me tell you, that ain't easy. First of all, we have to deal with declination that matters here. back in Wisconsin, you could practically ignore the difference between magnetic north and true north. In Arizona, no such luck. Second, the markers are all hidden from each other. It makes the course challenging with a compass. It makes it a bloody nightmare when you have no frigging idea where they are and have to wander around in the desert looking for them. It also makes it hard to get the direction correct trying to spot a hidden marker a good 200 paces away. Some are in washes, some behind trees, and some just in unexpected areas.

I managed to find the starting marker pretty quickly and ended up discovering the posts in reverse order from marker 10 through 4. I found 2 and 1 before I found 3. I measured the direction compensating for what I called a 10-degree declination and paced the distances off. I must have put in a good ten miles of wandering around before I finished. The good thing is that I found all the markers and we now have that all written down.

//

I started recording Silent Night instead of Hark! The Hereld Angels Sing. The slower tempo is easier to deal with while I'm still learning the equipment (both the recorder and the instruments). After a number of false starts with various instruments, I put down a vocal track all the way through. I'm not thrilled with the sound of my own voice, and saying I'm an untrained vocalist is being kind. But, maybe it's just hearing it acapella. With support from instruments, maybe it will be okay. Maybe, but I'm still no Frank Sinatra.

I recorded the first two verses, left a big gap for instrumentals, then vocals on the last and a repeat of the first verse. I tried to insert a clarinet solo in the gap, but it didn't fit and instead overlapped the vocals of verse three. I killed that one, partly due to some unplanned improv that I would have kept had it fit. Instead, I started at the beginnign of the song with the intention of moving the track later. That got aborted when everyone else got home, as it was 10:30Pm.

At least I got the vocals done when nobody was around. right now, nobody is the wiser but you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

HM #8

The frustrating Writers of the Future contest results came back with yet another honorable mention finish for me. That makes 8. I would like to either win the contest or make the sales to become ineligible. I actually did not think I would finish this high with this story, so maybe that's a good thing. If I think something is less than stellar work and it wins HM, maybe I am improving. Hmm.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Sales

I did a short story blitz over the holiday weekend, sending out stagnant stories back into the market. As a result, I sold two more stories.

1. Road Rage, a story that has been floating around for a while, sold to new SF online magazine M-Brane SF.
2. A Rock by Any Other Name, sold to The Future Fire.

Details to come.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Finally I Can Show It

Happy Thanksgiving.

I finally finished cleaning out the home office today. It took me 5 days to do the deep thorough cleaning starting with the closet and working my way out. Along with that work came two large loads to Goodwill and more recyclables than I can fit in my bin. Today is our normal recycling day, but because it is Thanksgiving, the truck comes tomorrow.

I have the 16-track recorder in its new home and have the back half of the room available for recording. 10 years of junk gone, and it feels good to be able to move around in here.

Along the way, I put up three shelves for my old cassette tapes (including one sliver I can't get out), vacuumed and steamed the carpet, and shredded check duplicates as much as 20 years old. The only thing I didn't do was move any furniture because everything is already in the best place for this room.

here is a brief video showing the new Rick Novy writing office and Iapetus Project recording studio.

video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spring Cleaning (in November)

One of the priorities while I'm off work this week is to give the house a thorough cleaning. We did the curtains already. Now, I'm hammering away at my home office. It's become the room where everything we don't know what to do with ends up. Also, anything we haven't wanted the kids to get into for 10 years ended up in there. The result? An almost unusable room. (Mom, it's like your sewing room in Waukesha. Yeah, that bad.)

One reason I need the extra space is I need room for the recording gear. My new recorder is sitting on a wooden TV tray. Yikes. I have absolutely no room for boom microphones right now. So, we already took one trip to Goodwill and another trip is in the making. I also tried to trade in about 5 years worth of Locus magazines, a foot-tall stack of National Geographic magazines, three-inches of Scientific Americans and Sky and Telescope magazines, a few issues of Asimov's and F&SF, and a few various old Writers Digest volumes at the used book store down in Tempe. Of course, all they took were the Writers Digests and Sky and Telescopes. So I still have most of that in my truck with no clue where to give them away. The NGs I might be able to give to a school, but the Locus volumes are so esoteric that I doubt I can find them a good home. Probably they will end up back in my home office.

While I was on the trip down to Tempe, I slid over to Mesa to visit Milano Music. They are the oldest music store in Arizona and have a bass player on staff who is into home recording. He's been very helpful discussing gear and different options. I bought my boom stands a few days ago at another of my favorite music stores, AZ Music. Since I'm spending a decent amount of cash, I wanted to share it with the places that have helped or given me good deals in the past. So, I finally bought the studio condenser microphone set I've been looking at since February.

Now that I have all the gear, I need to make the space to use it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Catching Up

Today, I started going through my list of stories that are sitting on my hard drive. This has been an incredibly tough year for me in the real world, making following Heinlein's rules numbers 4 and 5 (You must put your story on the market, and you must keep it on the market until sold) incredibly difficult.

I came up with 8 queries of stories of which I did not know the status. Some were rejected and I was too busy to note it down. That would make for embarrassment if the editors all knew how many queries I sent today. (Most editors don't read my blog, so I should be safe with the confession.) On others I really haven't heard back. And the markets that I'm talking about do occasionally vanish while I have something submitted. It has happened more than once to me, and I even got paid and had all rights revert on one occasion.

Including the queries, I had something like 21 stories waiting to get back into the market or with status unknown. I spent a great deal of effort this evening getting some of those back into the market. It's not as if the Packers were beating the Saints, or anything like that.

Of the 16 stories I had on my list to resubmit, I managed to get 8 back into the marketplace today. Not a bad accomplishment while watching Green Bay give up 51. Ouch.

//

I recorded and mixed my first experiment with the Fostex multitrack recorder on saturday. I still need to bounce the tracks over and covert to a stereo wave file, but that should happen soon. If the file size is small enough, I'll post it here for your listening agony. It's an unmeasured, unrehearsed, ad-libbed sort-of excerpt from Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The chord sequence is one of the first I learned, and I kind of use it as a warm-up.

//

If you are interested in reading some controversy, hop on over to James Maxey's blog. James has allowed D.N. Drake to post a free-for-all intentionally controversial guest blog post here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2008 Flute Competition Resuts

For the fifth consecutive year, Audrey competed in the Arizona Flute Society Young Artist competition.

Recap:

2004 - Debut Division - Honorable Mention (unshared)
2005 - Debut Division - 3rd Place
2006 - Debut Division - 1st place (tied)
2007 - Junior Division - Participant

In the Debut (4th - 6th Grade) division, Audrey moved up every year, finally tying for first with a girl named Jennifer Chiang when they were both 6th graders. In her first year competing in the Junior (7th - 9th grade) division, Audrey had a miserable performance and fell out of the listings. Jennifer Chiang, meanwhile, took third place.

This year, Audrey's nemesis, Jennifer Chiang won the Junior division. Audrey is back in the listings at third place. The two that beat her must have had outstanding performances, and I suspect the scoring was very close. Audrey had a very good performance, one of the best runs-through she did with this piece. (As a consolation, Ms Chiang is ineligible next year.)

Unfortunately, despite checking the camera batteries before we left, I could not get it to work at the performance. Alas, I have no recording of this years performance. Now that my recorder arrived, I can hopefully record it here once I buy some microphones.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iapetus Rising

I finally did it. I ordered my 16-track recorder last friday and it's due here on thursday. You can see the one I ordered here. (I didn't buy it from Zzounds, but they have a decent photo.)

So, the Iapetus Project is on the launch pad. For the past few days, I've been looking for a public domain song to try it out. I finally settled on Hark! The Hereld Angels Sing for reasons having more to do with the chords I can currently play on guitar than fondness for the song.

About an hour ago, I transposed the melody for Bb instruments and pulled my clarinet out of the closet. Augh! It sounded awful. No, I sounded awful. Of course, I've probably spent a total of about 30 minutes with the instrument over the past five years. I can blame part of it on the reed, but not all of it.

The song is in the key of G, which puts it into the key of A for clarinet. At first, I couldn't remember the fingerings for the A scale, but it came back after thirty seconds of trial and error.

I did manage to get the clarinet and guitar in tune with each other, but I think my clarinet tone needs a bit of practice.

As a side note, I pounded out a holiday flash story last night in one sitting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Made the Deadline

I am pleased as punch to announce that I did make the deadline for submission to Jay Lake's anthology. It took a late night with the wife asking when I plan to turn off the light, but I made it. Now that the submission window is closed, I don't mind talking about the story.

The anthology is called Footprints. It is centered around the idea that we leave traces of our existence (namely, footprints on the moon) long after we are extinct. The story must be told from an alien point of view.

I took a slightly different tactic. My story is called "Radio Waves," and in it, an alien species detects the radio frequency emissions of Earth. Ultimately, the aliens glom onto a televangelist and become the faithful. In the end, they make a pilgrimage to Earth to bring the televangelist back to their planet. The radio waves just stop half way to Earth. What do they find and how do they explain things to the faithful? You'll have to read it to find out.

Also on the writing front, I am preparing the agent query packages for Neanderthal Swan Song. 13 months on the Baen slush pile was a long wait, and probably not the best place to send the manuscript. But, it's back in my hands and I intend to shop it more conventionally now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Novel Status

13 months and Baen rejected my novel "Neanderthal Swan Song." Not a surprise. I spoke with Alan Dean Foster back in August, and he said that he and his agent had some discussions with Baen shortly before that. According to him, they are really only buying military SF and alt history. Since Neanderthal Swan Song falls into neither category, I'm glad just to finally have the manuscript back in my hands. Will be sending queries to agents now.

I'm almost done with the story I am writing intended for the Jay Lake anthology. The deadline is tomorrow, but I've crossed the minimum word count and have maybe 10% of the story left to tell. Hopefully I'll have enough time for a thorough once-over.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Busy busy

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I'm trying to finish a short story in time for the deadline to the Jay Lake anthology Footsteps. Every time I get a block of time to work on the story, it's taken away by some other obligation.

Aargh.

Still, I think there's a fair chance I might hit the deadline, which is this coming Saturday.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Back from Scout Pueblo

A nice two-night camp out finished up today. we took the troop to the Heard Scout Pueblo. There are two main attractions of this camp. First, it's close. 30 minutes and we arrive. Second, they have a rifle range, which we reserved from 9:00 to noon on saturday.

They had 4 NRA instructors on site. (The BSA and the NRA have always had a good relationship.) The boys got a substantial class in firearm safety before they were allowed to shoot.

The boys worked on rifle shooting merit badge, which in part requires the boys to get 3 shots grouped in an area the size of a quarter using a 22-caliber rim fire rifle from fifty feet, and do it five times.

Most of the boys worked on that. The three boys who already have the merit badge, as well as all the adults, worked on NRA marksmanship qualification.

My father used to compete with his 22-caliber rim fire and brought home trophies as proof that he knew a little bit about it. He took us to the range from time-to-time, so I had shot before. However, I never attempted any qualification until saturday. Considering the rifles were scout camp inventory, I didn't do too badly, and I managed to earn my pro-marksman rating.

That is the first level you can attain, and is relatively easy. 10 targets with a score of 20 or higher. My lowest score was 32, which is good enough to qualify for the sharpshooter level, but you have to earn the lower ratings first. The rifles were fairly heavy and fatigue certainly was a factor. The boys going for the merit badge get to rest the rifle on a block, but for NRA certification you have to support the gun yourself.

By noon, I had a nice certificate, the rifle qualification patch, and the pro-marksman patch. Russell made good progress, too. His first target had 3 holes scattered around the target. you could have put a grapefruit between the three holes. A few targets later, he was grouping them well enough to meet the "quarter" requirement for the merit badge or better.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Scout Pueblo

I'm about 30 minutes away from leaving for the Heard Scout Pueblo. Our troop is doing a 2-night camp out. The boys are excited because it's an official scout camp, and so we get to use the rifle range. Hopefully, I'll have pictures when we get back.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Smelly Shit

In addition to the morning paper, we found this smelly piece of racist shit in our driveway this morning.



I've lived here almost ten years and this is the first time I've had something like this dropped in my driveway. Perhaps I should ask my 100% Filipino wife and 50% Filipino kids if we should join as a family, eh?

Notice the tire tracks on the top, by the way.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Astropoetica? Really?

Here's another first for me. I sold a prose poem to Astropoetica.

Nominally, I don't do poetry. Except limericks. I do sometimes write limericks.

There was a man incredibly crass,
Who had horribly flatulant gas.
Smells? There were plenty.
Friends? There weren't any.
But he sounds like a section of brass!

That's generally the limits of my poetry, though I did sneak in the superman atomic wedgie haiku for James Maxey.

But "Everywhere Spirals" was a fun little thing I put together a while back. it's actually a story inverse. No, not inverse, in verse.

I do not yet know the date it will go live, but I will post a link when that happens.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Alan Dean Foster

Russell and I went down to Poisoned Pen this evening to see Alan Dean Foster and have a book signed.



Russell had to write a report on a well-known Arizonan in 4th grade, and he wrote about Alan. I thought he would enjoy meeting the real deal.

I had an innocent bystander shoot this one. I am not having much luck getting a decent photograph with Alan, but at least both halves of both of us are in this one.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Have a Happy Halloweeny

Politics as Usual

Aaaagh! Go away! I already voted. Stop sending me junk mail. Stop the ads on my TV. I already voted. I'm tired of listening to the lies, lies, lies! Leave me alone and go away. Stop the computer phone calls! Go bother an undecided! I already voted! Leave me alone! Aaagh!

Judgement Day

For any of my local readers, please look here before you vote. This is the only resource I could find with information about the three dozen judges on tuesday's ballot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Callouses Are Coming Back

I've been playing guitar enough since the weekend that I can feel the callouses coming back. The rhythm line from Tangled Up in Blue is coming along now that I figured out a way to deal with the fingerpicking and strumming. I'm not taking any lessons, so it's all creativity on my part if I can't find an answer in a book. I should record and post a snippet this weekend.

---------

I finished my mail-in ballot this evening. Voting whether to retain judges is frustrating. It's difficult to find information to make an informed decision. There is a web site posting results of a large panel that evaluates them, but you have no choice but to take their word for it.

My presidential pick is something I will share. I'm so fed up with the whole government that I wrote in Jack Kemp's name. It's a throw-away vote, but I just couldn't bring myself to vote for Obaba or McCain. Alas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Superhero Haiku?

My fellow Codex writer and author of Bitterwood, has posted a collection of superhero haiku on his blog. And yes, I am represented therein.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dylan

I seem to have migrated into music mode a the expense of my fiction. This happens to me from time to ime, and I do have some modest ambitions in that area as well. My "band," the Iapetus Project, will eventually produce self-recorded, self-distributed music. That is several years off, as I first need to learn how to play a few instruments.

I'm currently working on guitar. Once you have a rudimentary knowledge of an instrument, I believe real compositions can be a great way to learn an instrument (along side etudes and so forth). Last time I was active on guitar, I learned the chord progression for Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Although it's not a terribly difficult chord progression, I was just starting out and it took me a week to learn it.

Now that I've finally dug the guitar out from the dust and started playing again, I wanted to play something different. I bought a Bob Dylan collection and have been struggling with Tangled up in Blue. It's a more interesting chord progression and rhythm than is Edmund Fitzgerald, but I ran into a bit of trouble because the tab says to pick the A string with the thumb on the first and third downbeat, and strum chords the rest of the time. Seriously discombobulated my hand because I couldn't do it without switching the fingers holding the pick, then moving it back after the thumb notes. Okay to do if it's being played largo, but this is supposed to be in cut time. Click here to hear the song (directly off Dylan's web site--needs flash) and listen for the thumb plucking the bass.

This evening, I figured out a way to cheat. Instead of using my thumb, I used my pinkie finger and suddenly I can play the rhythm without messing with the pick.

Well, my browser suddenly crashed and I have the mandatory reboot window, so that's it for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wedding Day

Okay, enough Saturday. The wedding, which was a Jewish wedding, was held on Sunday. My sister converted, so that gave us the opportunity to see something we haven't seen before, and learn something about the Jewish faith.

This is my newly-minted brother-in-law Barry. He's a good man.


They visited us last year and took my kids to the zoo. I was going to post a picture, but they must be on the other computer.


Here is a picture of Barry with Reanna and Audrey.



Father of the bride with mother of the groom.



Here are my three...Reanna, Audrey, and Russell with his little necktie and his first yamika.

And here, as promised, is a photo of me about 30 seconds after the first time I ever put a yamika on my head. (Yes, I know it's not in the right spot.)




Russell and I wore matching ties, too. More pictures next time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back to the Wedding Weekend

Okay, I'm finally getting around to posting a few more pictures from the wedding. Where did we leave off? Oh yes, the science museum. After the museum closed, we all went back to the hotel.



Here we have a kid pile. Olivia, Haley, Russell, Reanna, and Audrey.



Olivia shows something to Aunt Kori (the bride to be).




The kids discovered the hot tub...



...and the pool...




...and the gym, especially the treadmills!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Times Gettin' Away From Me

Wow time's gettin' away from me. Thursday since my last post? Really, it's been a tough few days. I did manage to finish my edits of the story I wrote with Ruth Nestvold. She has it now. In addition, I scrapped a story-in-progress because I found it lame. I'm using a similar idea and started the story again with changes.

More pictures from the wedding weekend coming soon. We haven't even been to dinner yet, and the wedding is the next day. I'll post them soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Wedding Stuff

Here are the next set of pictures. Reanna enjoyed a hot chocolate moustache during saturday's lunch.


After lunch, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We had to wait in line. Here is Russell, the girls' backs, and Dad wearing a very smart cap.

Here are Mom and Dad waiting in line.



Reanna waits in line while Russell checks to see if he's wearing a superhero costume.



Inside, Doug, my brother, and Julie, my sister, wait for all the kids to catch up.


Russell decided to take a swim with prehistoric fishes.


Reanna gets a visit from a monkey.



She's not so comfortable with this wildebeast thing.



Russell seems to be disturbing the primative.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're Back

No, I haven't forgotten about the blog. I've been exhausted and swamped between work and homework help since we got back.

As an aside, are you getting as tired of politics as I am? I finally found something that says it all for me in this presidential election.

Say no more.

//

On saturday, we arrived in Denver and immediately went to lunch with most of the family.


Here is the first picture of the trip, at the restaurant. From left to right, Russell, Reanna, Haley, Kenny's legs, Audrey, and Dad.

More pictures to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wedding

This weekend my sister Kori was married to a wonderful guy, Barry Stevelman. This was the first time I've ever witnessed a Jewish wedding, so it was quite an experience.

We flew in from Phoenix yesterday morning and met the rest of the family at the hotel in Denver. The whole family other than Kori went out for lunch and got reacquinted. Almost everyone is here from my side. The only people missing are my nephew Auston, who had a soccer tournament this weekend, and my wife, Rica, who stayed home to care for her mother.

After lunch, we hit the Denver museum of Science and Nature and saw the travelling dinosaur exhibit we missed in Phoenix. We met for dinner, with Kori this time, then went back to the hotel so the kids could swim.

The wedding was this morning, followed by the reception. We're about to head for Kori and Barry's place to visit, then off to the airport. More later, probably with pictures.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Collaboration Redux

Last September (as in 07) the Codex Writers Group held a captive collaboration contest. I was matched with the esteemed Ruth Nestvold. She has a bit more of a track record than I do, so I was thrilled with the match-up.

It seemed to work well, too. Unfortunately, we both got busy and only finished half the story. Fast forward half a year and I pushed the story through to a conclusion, then tossed back to Ruth. We discussed some problems with the story and she took the task of doing a thorough overhaul of the manuscript.

A couple days ago I got it back from her. I did a read through and I think the story is starting to look pretty good. Right now, I'm going through the manuscript making some cosmetic changes focusing on lyrical prose. By that, I mean the rhythm and meter of the sentence. Prose can have a pleasant cadence and rhythm, just like music. Perhaps I'll write more on that.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Are You Sneoome Who Can Raed Tihs?

I found this, in all places, on my daughter's You tube channel (the identity of which I will not disclose). I found it to be quite interesting.

Cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!if you can raed tihs rpsoet it. OLNY RSEPOT IF YOU CAN RAED TIHS
Can you read it? I'll bet you can, and I think that is fascinating. Don't you?

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Step Forward

On Sunday, I took my turn having a manuscript raked across the coals. This time it was a story called Karoshi. The response was pretty favorable, and the other writers in the group all gave some good input.

I went through and edited the manuscript tonight and I think it's now in pretty good shape. It felt good to hammer this out. For the past two weeks I had been battling what turned out to be a nasty sinus infection. The treatment I started last week finally kicked in, and things are getting back to normal. Or whatever passes for normal at Entropy Central. I didn't have the energy to write during the worst of it, so it felt good to make decent progress, even if it wasn't new material.

I actually wrote some yesterday, also. That was on my current work in progress, a story I will discuss when the time is right.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Story is Up

"Swirling Beneath One Thin Ring" is now live at The Martian Wave. You can see it here.

I learned today that this will be the final online version of the magazine. After eleven years as a quarterly on the web, they are becoming a biannual print magazine. It has been a good market for me, so you may at some point see me in those pages.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How to Thwart a Dictator


The Autumn issue of Tales of the Talisman just came out. It contains my story How to Thwart a Dictator. This is the third to appear of four stories I've sold to David Lee Summer. (The fourth comes out next June.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Frothing at the Mouth

How did I come to my blog Frothing at the Mouth?

This could be a cool theme song for my blog:



But it isn't.

Perhaps this guy, chewing Alka seltzer was my inspiration?



Nope.

This guy really knows how to froth at the mouth:



But he wasn't the inspiration, either.

Ready for the anti-climax?

When Blogger asked me to name the blog, a Monty Python sketch popped into my head. I recalled a bit of monologue that went something like this:

...as a member of the Conservative party, I just drone on and on and on until I froth at the mouth and fall over backwards...waaaah .

So I typed in Frothing at the Mouth and that's all there is.

Now you know.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Madness

If you haven't already seen this, click and make your pick!

As for me, I'm still trying to get over this headcold, sinus infection, whateveritis that has my airway constipated. Aye-Carumba!

In other news, I have these new pen pals. Two of them are named John McCain and Barack Obama. They sends me letters almost every day. They sure go to a lot of effort to make up shiny pictures and professional-looking glossies. Just today, John McCain sent me a beautiful full-color photograph of himself posing with none other than Tina Fey. Tina Fey! Can you imagine?

The photo arrived in a big gray envelope that was folded right along the line under the words DO NOT BEND, PHOTO ENCLOSED.

I can't wait to see what Barack Obama sends me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Deadpan Appearance

My first audio fiction appearance is part of Jack Mangan's Deadpan show #106. the story is I Can Fly, a flash fiction story that first appeared in The Written Word.

If you would like to listen to the story (under 5 minutes) click here. The story starts at 16:40.

Or, click both links and read along. See if I changed any words.

Waters Arrives

Roger Waters finally made a statement about the Death of his former band-mate Richard Wright.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sale

The Martian Wave had purchased a story called Swirling Beneath One Thin Ring. It's my third sale to this market and the second cat story I've sold. (The other was titled Cats. How unique, eh?)

This story is actually written in the point of view of a genetically engineered cat. I'll post a link when the story is up.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blah

I hate getting a cold, and I especially hate summer colds. Yes, I realize everywhere else it's autumn, but it hit 105 degrees here, so it's still summer for me. Whenever I get sick, it goes to my nose. I can't take a day off work because a certain project is at a critical time.

So, I'm left without energy and a sore nose. I tried to write this evening but I can't get the creative juices flowing. Maybe I'll just read.

Speaking of reading, I finally managed to get my son reading over the past couple of days. He discovered the Dan Gutman books like Honus and Me. He's read that one and Mickey and Me, and he's now reading Shoeless Joe and Me. I'm not sure what to give him after those are finished. He has a handful of other sports books, but they won't last him long. I'm hoping he'll finally pick up the Hardy Boys books I bought for him. I read and enjoyed most of those as a boy. (So why don't I write mysteries instead of SF? The market is much bigger.)

So long as he keeps reading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Progress Report

I finished the alt-history story I was working on for the Codex Halloween story contest. I can't give away any details until the contest ends. However, this will be the story I send to Writers of the Future contest for this quarter.

I also did my first read-through of the last story I wrote, Karoshi. I wasn't particularly thrilled with it, but writers are notoriously bad at judging their own work. I think I'm too close to it.

I'll be taking Karoshi to the writers group I belong to a week from Sunday. I'll be interested in the reaction.

In other news, my story I Can Fly will be podcast on Jack Mangan's Deadpan as early as next week. It's my first try with podcasting a story, and I'm not sure what reaction I'll get. I Can Fly originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of The Written Word.

I'll post a link when it's available.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where is the Water?

Monday, Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright passed away. In the five days since, I've seen comments from drummer Nick Mason, and a very affectionate blog post by guitar player David Gilmour. Despite daily google searches, I have yet to find anything from estranged bass layer Roger Waters. Waters has been strangely silent on the passing of his former band mate. As far as I can tell, he has said nothing.

His web site is a strange picture, with nothing else there. The Roger Waters fan club web site hasn't even received a statement, though they color the photo with some speculation. I think that photo has been up many months, years even.

Has anyone seen comments from Waters?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Progress on Many Fronts

The Ralan.com media blitz seems to be working. Ralan Conley emailed me to say that he had 23 contributors yesterday and doubled the donations. I don't know if we'll get to 100%, but at least I know that a lot of people took the clarion call to heart.

In my own writing, I made some progress on two short stories this evening. I was working on my alt history story during my girls' make-up piano lessons. (Normally they have lessons on Monday, but see Monday's post.) I needed to look up some dates, so I worked on the story intended for the Jay Lake anthology instead. I went back to the contest story after I got home, so good progress on both.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spec Fic Blog Machine Rolls to Life

One perceptive eye and three posts in strategic locations. That's what started the ball rolling. The blog machine has rumbled to life to help rectify the dismal Ralan.com fund drive to keep this valuable resource online for another year.

I posted in three strategic locations: here, in Codex, and in the sffnet SFWA lounge. a group of my writer associates joined in, posting (and graciously attributing to me) their own clarion calls to join the cause. Curious google searches lead me to the live journals of people I have never heard of.

In some cases the story seems to have taken on a life of its own. It's a little like that campfire game where you whisper to your neighbor, and by the time it gets to the end, the message is completely different. It seems the alert has changed to Ralan.com might disappear at the end of the month. Only Ralan can answer that, but I suspect that has become a bit hyped.

This morphed rumor seems to have emerged on a beginning writer board. Let them sweat it a little. One member gave $5. That's what she could afford, and I'm sure it's appreciated. Others on that board encouraged spreading the word if you can't afford to donate.

This is the power of the internet. It's going to be interesting to see how effective this turns out to be, or if it even turns into a monster with a life of its own.

Monday, September 15, 2008

SpecFic Writers Take Note

Okay, it's time for the freeloaders to step up. Ralan.com has provided writers with market information for over eleven years. He does it for free, and he spends hours and hours every week on the site. All he asks for is a little help funding the web site.

He has only 14% of his goal for his annual fund drive. Half way through his September drive and only 14%.

This is for real, people. Ralan won't operate the board for free if the writers don't help. He could make it a subscription site, or he could simply retire it. How many of you have made a first sale because Ralan ran his board. I found most of my markets on his site, that's why I contributed.

All it takes is a 10 euro donation from the people who benefit from the site. That's about $15 US and PayPal takes care of the details and the currency exchange. That's one or two sales from a very small market.

It's not that much money, people, but the resource is irreplacible.

Good News and Bad News

Today, we get polar opposites. On the one hand, Pink Floyd keyboard player and founding member Richard Wright passed away. On the other hand, my oldest child was inducted into the Junior National Honor Society this evening Let's start with the bad news, so we can end this post on a positive note.

Richard Wright was an integral part of the true sound of Pink Floyd. Here is the announcement from the Pink Floyd web site:

The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness, that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.




Wright was a self-taught musician of the highest caliber. Without Wright, there would have been no Pink Floyd. The long keyboard solo on Dogs, from the Animals album is, I think, one of the best demonstrations of his musical ability.

Wright was always my favorite member of Pink Floyd, his low-key quiet manner radiated class. I don't know what the man was like off-stage, but on the stage, he was the consumate professional. He let his fingers do the talking most of the time, but on the few songs where he had the lead vocals, he handled them with such skill it makes you wish he sang the lead more often.

While I am saddened by the passing of Wright, he lives on in the only real place I know him. That is in the music. On the radio this evening, they played "Wish You Were Here" for their Live at Five segment. They played it in tribute to Wright. At first, I was taken aback because the song is very heavy in the sound of David Gilmour's guitar. After a couple of verses, it occurred to me that the music wasn't the point. The words were the point. It escaped me at first because I know the song was written about Syd Barrett. But today, the words were for Wright.

Okay, enough mourning. Let's talk about something more upbeat. Today, my oldest daughter, Audrey, was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.



Here is Audrey in her new dress, accompanied by her sister. It's really an outtake. They are trying to keep a group of friends out of the shot.

Here's the real deal, when she became a member.

video

And here is her posed picture shaking hands with the principal, with the vice principal standing by.



Of course, we are very proud of Audrey and wish her continued success in her studies.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alt-History Progress

I'm finding alt-history a bit more challenging than I expected. The story in question is a bit tricky, and I'm having difficulty with motive. You can't just make changes willy-nilly. There has to be a reason. If I decide to explore what might have happened if, say, Kublai Khan had not been recalled to Mongolia and instead participated in the Crusades as he promised, then I have to understand both what really happened and come up with a plausible reason why it happened differently.

That isn't what I'm writing, though it might make a very interesting and possibly risky novel.

I'm finding this sub-genre is full of a different kind of challenge than most of my writing, with a new set of problems. Currently I'm about 350 words into the story. It's not much, I know, but it's better than none.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Baseball Fans

If you are a baseball fan, check this out. It will put a smile on your face.

Alt-History

It's been a while since I've discussed any genre-related opinion, so today lets look at the sub-genre of alt-history.

Alternate history is where the author takes one defining moment in history and changes the outcome to explore the ramifications. For instance, what if the South had won the Civil War? What if Hitler had been able to repel the Allies at Normandy during WWII? What if the colonies had lost the Revolutionary War--for my readers from the U.K. this is aka the American Rebellion.

I am currently exploring my first alt-history story idea. It's not an easy sub-genre to write. It not only requires an understanding of what really happened and why, it also requires careful thought about what the effects of changing on outcome might be.

Alt-history is a funny sub-genre because it doesn't have a neat fit into Novy's speculative fiction spectrum (a concept I should fully develop and publish). Briefly, my spectrum has High Fantasy on the left, Hard SF on the right, with non-genre contemporary popular fiction taking the center position. Much of Speculative Fiction falls very neatly on this spectrum, with another group straddling the center.

Although certainly speculative and well-entrenched as a sub-genre, it doesn't fit well anywhere on my spectrum. Depending on how history becomes different, a story could have a finger on the spectrum. Eric Flint's 1632 uses unexplained alien technology to transport a county-sized chunk of the modern U.S. to 1632 Europe. After the change, however, his events fall naturally from the interaction of the history and the characters. Only the first 50 pages or so fall on the spectrum. The rest fits nowhere.

Other writers like Harry Turtledove change an outcome and just let events roll. There is no question of the speculative nature of the sub-genre. It asks the required question: what if?

Perhaps the spectrum needs a second axis to hold all of todays speculative fiction. Perhaps. Or perhaps the subgenre makes good use of being just a couple of points (the mathematical definition) left (fantastic side) or right (scientific side) of the center.

Friday, September 12, 2008

DSL is Back

It's been a painful week, nearly to the hour, of going without DSL. My ISP apparently lost two techs (back to school, not pissed and quit) so their night support was thin. The main guy called me from home this evening and got me running in about 5 minutes.

The basic problem, what I was missing, was the password that I can't see in the old modem. Once we put that in, we were off and running. (Thanks Eric.)

So, now that we're back online and we all survived the black hole at Cern, it's back to business.

It's been a long time since I've posted any opinion items on SF as a literary field. I'm thinking of putting another one up soon. This one will be on alt-history.

conCern

Click here. Trust me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tenderfoot

This evening, Russell finished the last requirement for his Tenderfoot rank. He is so happy to be rid of the scout badge. I remember those days as a child. Scout is practically free. No camping required, just learn the scout badge and such.

Tenderfoot has some basic scouting skill requirements. He's happy to be done with it.

////

It's been difficult to make any progress writing this past week. I've been writing, but not very much. After I finished Karoshi, I started my story targeted for the Jay Lake anthology. Then, I realized my Codex Halloween contest story is due October 1st. Since the Writers of the Future contest quarter closes September 30, that story has to be the one.

////

The pool is no longer green. I fought the worst pH problem I've ever had and finally won that battle. Just this evening, I could finally see the bottom of the pool clearly. I prefer to use the clarifying liquids, but when they don't work, I fall back to alum. It works every time, but now the barracuda is struggling. To top it off, we had a major haboob roll through the valley this evening. We missed the bulk of it, but it didn't help the pool effort. I think by the end of this weekend the pool will be back in business.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sorta Back

I received the replacement modem today. The first thing I did was to plug it into the old power supply. Guess what? I isolated the problem to the old power supply. I immediately tried the old modem with the new power supply and guess what?

I haven't been able to get the new modem to work properly, so I'm running on the old one. I haven't decided which one I will ultimately keep.

//

Yesterday, I finished my first short story in several months. It's a story intended for the J.J. Adams anthology Federations. I'm setting it aside while I work on another short--the one I'm working on for the Jay Lake anthology. Wish me luck with those.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dial-up

Sheesh, I can't believe I was a dial-up hold out for so many years. Now, limping along without my DSL is extremely painful. It's dial-up or isolation. Here's hoping my high-speed replacement arrives soon.

I drove down to Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale today and heard a reading by S.M. Stirling. If you haven't ready any of his work, he's a history geek with a literary flavor to his prose, and a twisted sense of humor. Good stuff. I had four books signed, including his newest title, The Scourge of God. Of course, like any writer I have an in-pile of that's three or four figures deep.

I didn't manage to get a photo with Steve, nor did I get to talk much shop. This was apparently the last stop on his book tour and he had someplace to go, very probably the airport. Seemed like a decent enough guy, though.

Friday, September 05, 2008

An Untimely Death

I got home from work today and discovered my wireless modem is no more. It's pushing up the daisies. It's climbed the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-modem. I thought these things were supposed to die right after the warranty expires, not with over 2 years left. Anyway, I don't get my new modem until sometime next week.

Of course, the guy on the tech support line had to ask me if the thing is plugged in. I told him I have a masters degree in engineering.

////

The pool was green at the beginning of August. I managed to kill the algae after significant problems. Now I'm fighting a bad pH problem. I've never had the pool go this acidic before. I've already added 5 pounds of soda ash. I bought another five pounds and dumped about a third of it in this evening. Hopefully that will get the pH back on the scale of my test kit. If not, maybe I'll start etching printed circuit boards.

I use a liquid test kit with phenol red, and the scale only goes down to pH 7.2 at a very light yellow. Heavens to murgatroid, a pool can be a pain. I'd really like to use it again before it gets too cold. It was 105 today, but I usually overseed in early October. It should be under 90 degrees for overseeding, so the summer days are waning.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Creative Energy

Suddenly I have a rash of short fiction ideas. After the nightmarish workload I had last week (just shy of 70 hours) I started writing again on monday evening. I threw down 1000 words on a short fiction piece I have slated for J.J. Adams' Federations anthology. I'm not sure if it will end up there. It's evolving a bit differently than I had envisioned, and I'm not sure if it is going to be a good fit. I may have to come up with something else.

After that, I have another short story in mind for submission to the Jay Lake anthology Footprints.

After that, I still have to write the Halloween contest story for Codex writers group.

And, I don't really have anything to send to Writers of the Future contest this quarter. I'd hate to send in boilerpot, but it may come to that. I've submitted every quarter for the past several years and racked up 7 Honorable Mentions (including the quarter finalist finishes before they called them Honorable Mention).

So far, I feel like I'm able to write again. I want to use these several short fiction projects to get my writing discipline back, then I'll return to the novel. I feel like I have to write four short stories this month to get myself back into the game and to meet my goals of submitting to several markets, including the ones I mentioned above.

There's also another story that my writers group critiqued a couple of months ago. I haven't gone back over that one, but I'd like to finish that one by Halloween. I'm hoping if I can use this short fiction to stoke the fire, I can salvage what's left of 2008 and make it a reasonably productive year. Sub-par, to be sure, but better than the three completely wordless months I already have in 2008.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mish Mash

Today I have a mish-mash of news. First, something sad. I arrived at work this morning to learn that one of my co-workers was killed in a motorcycle accident over the holiday weekend. It's spooky because I sat in his office on thursday last week, thinking to myself that I just talked with him on thursday. That's really eerie because it's the second time something like that has happened in the past year. At least it wasn't Karoshi like last time.


////

I found a web site that will generate a map of where you've been.



create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Here is where I have been in the world:



create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

I would live to see what Alan Dean Foster's maps look like.


////


I learned today that I took my 7th honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. I would prefer to either win the thing, or disqualify myself. The constant flow of HMs is starting to get old.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mote Coppercon (a little more only)

I ran over to coppercon again today, mostly because my daughter Reanna wanted to go to the mall with her friends. So, I left her with her friends (and one friend's mother) and went to the con that was a block away.

I had my camera this time. I was hoping to get a picture with Steven Brust, but he is pretty elusive. He had a signing with Michelle M. Welch, but I arrived in the last five minutes and only Michelle was there. Apparently, Brust took off about 5 minutes before I arrived.

I did get a couple of pictures with Jack Mangan. Here, Jack is looking philosophical and I'm just wondering what he's doing.



I wanted to get a picture with Michelle, but despite sitting in the lounge with her, Lejon, and Jack for maybe 45 minutes, that never happened.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coppercon 28

Todays panels at Coppercon went well. I finally got the chance to sit on a panel with both Emily and Ernest Hogan, two Phoenix writers who I have known for several years. I had lunch with Jack Mangan, Michelle M. Welch, and her husband Lejon.

The panel on bringing SF into the classroon was moderated by Paul Cook, who teaches a SF course at Arizona State University. Chris Paige teaches, too. Emily Hogan sat on the panel as a bookseller, and I sat on the panel as a writer and parent. We had some good discussion and I think it went well.

My second panel was "Does SF translate well to film?" It was moderated by Kevin Birnbaum, who is a screenwriter. Summer Brooks is part of Far Point Media, a group that handles a lot of podcasting. I was one of two writers on the panel, Tabitha Bradley was the other. We got into some good discussion with a lot of audience participation. After the panel, Summer, Kevin and I talked a great deal and Kevin showed us a preview of a film he is involved with. Very risky and heated racial tensions permeate the story. Should produce good controversy.

My last panel was on minorities in SF. I have blogged about this in the past, and I brought up many of the same points. Summer Brooks moderated this panel, and we were joined by Ernest Hogan. Of my three panels, this was the only one that ended a few minutes early, but we did have some interesting back and forth.

Michelle M. Welch is on a panel with Steven Brust tomorrow. I hope to attend that one, as it should be entertaining.

///

Oh yes, one last thing. Here is the film clip of the storm last night. I almost decided not to post it because it really doesn't look like anything special. Believe me, somewhere in the sky we had a lightning flash several times a second. It was incredible. Apparently my phone has low enough resolution that it can only pick up what is immediately in front of it. So, when you watch the clip, imagine a whole array of these clips surrounding your head and playing at different start times.

video

That is all for today. I worked nearly 70 hours this week and I am exhausted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel -- A Train?

It looks like the hoobaloo at work that has me working long hours might be showing signs of resolution. It's not a done deal yet, but good progress has been made. After working over 14 hours yesterday, getting home at 11:00PM, I got home at 6:00 today then had an hour conference call. Almost a vacation by comparison.

But nobody wants to hear me whine about long hours. I can't really stop writing no matter what I said. It's in my blood.

There was a terrific lightning storm this evening, still going on, in fact. I'm running the laptop on battery and connected to somebody's "linksys" so I can keep my own hardware unplugged. I took a full minute of video on my cell phone that I will share once I can bluetooth it onto my work computer. It doesn't do the storm justice, but it still has a lightning strike every few seconds. It just doesn't show the flashes from the lightning in other directions. For a while, there was a strike of lightning going off somewhere in the sky every 1/10 second or so. Just amazing.

////

Recall that Sam's Dot Publishing is planning to release my IGMS story, The Adjoa Gambit packaged with a new novelette, Winter, as a trade paperback early next year. Just today, I got a very cool blurb from Jack Mangan. Jack is a local writer and runs the Deadpan podcast. He's linked on my sidebar, go check out his stuff.

Anyway, I wanted to share the blurb.

"The best elements of Science Fiction's past, present, and future can be found in Rick Novy's writing. This is blue-collar, classically-influenced Spec-Fic at its best."
-- Jack Mangan of the Deadpan Podcast, author of Spherical Tomi
Is that a great blurb or what? At first, my reaction to the term blue-collar was to be a bit perplexed. Then I gave it some thought and realized that it's a very succinct way of stating what I usually take four or five sentences to put across. I'm not a literary writer. I don't want to be a literary writer. I'm an entertainer, and I write to tell a story for the reader to enjoy. In that respect, it is blue-collar, and that's intentional. Most of what I write I want to be fun reading.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hiatus

I regret to announce that I no longer get to be a writer. My day job, the one that pays the mortgage, is consuming pretty much all my waking hours. That means there isn't much point in maintaining a blog until my situation changes. Farewell.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Lava Tubes

We arrived safely from the weekend excursion to the famous (not really, I hadn't heard of them) Lava Tubes. I also don't know why people call it Lava Tubes when there is only one of them.



It's a 1-1/2 mile out-and-back hike with no choice but to come back because the cave dead-ends. Here is Russell going in.





Photography is difficult inside as without flashlights it is completely dark. Here is a picture of people out of range of the flash.



See what I mean? We met up with this poor, unfortunate soul who seems to have been in the cave for a very long time.



Russell found a light saber in the cave. It was probably discarded because it is clearly a factory reject.



We camped just off the forest road. Here, Russell is setting up one of the tents.





We did visit Lowell Observatory. We didn't get to see much. The sky was clouding fast, but we did get to see M57 (aka the Ring Nebula) through a 16-inch telescope. It looks much the same as in the photo , but washed out and colorless as expected when viewed optically. The eye is not as sensitive to color as is photographic film.



I bought a sweatshirt with this logo:



The boys had fun at the observatory. I was somewhat bored because the public dog-and-pony show experience doesn't hold anything new for me. Still, it was better than a lot of alternatives.