Sunday, December 28, 2008
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
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
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
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
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
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
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.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Sunday, 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
"Bringing affordable reading to our neighborhood"
Sunday, December 07, 2008
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
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
Sunday, November 30, 2008
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
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.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
Still, I think there's a fair chance I might hit the deadline, which is this coming Saturday.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
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
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
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
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
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
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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
Sunday, October 26, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 TIHSCan you read it? I'll bet you can, and I think that is fascinating. Don't you?
Monday, October 06, 2008
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
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
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
This could be a cool theme song for my blog:
But it isn't.
Perhaps this guy, chewing Alka seltzer was my inspiration?
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
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
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.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
That is all for today. I worked nearly 70 hours this week and I am exhausted.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
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."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.
-- Jack Mangan of the Deadpan Podcast, author of Spherical Tomi
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
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.