Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A 15 Minute Poem

This is what I decided to post today. Why? I don't know (and quite frankly, I'm afraid to ask!) my psyche merely decided to pump this out over lunch. For whatever reason, it told me to write it out in under 15 minutes. The results are below for your reading pleasure.

Here's a challenge for anyone interested: do your own poem in 15 minutes or less. Feel free to post a link here in the comments.




Tick, tock, tilly today I’m feeling silly
Beg, buy, borrow: don’t know about tomorrow
Pick, post, and pay for the dreams of yesterday
While Doc slaps a suture on the wounds of my future

You slide through each day in your own little way
Side-stepping the crap and flapping your yap
Singing Ring-ding-a-dillo, till your heads on the pillow
Dreams awash in thought that your brain never caught

Your alarm ends the snore, then you’re at it once more
Shave, shit, and shower in just under an hour
Turn the key: vroom-vroom, now it’s off to your doom
Nod, smile, and listen: just ignore what you’re missin’

Ticky-dee, ticky-doo, there’s a grand life for you
Ticky-doo, ticky-dee have you listened to me?
Don’t feel crazy cuz your life’s gone all hazy
Find a place, find a friend, that gives a better end

So today we all felt silly ‘bout our ticky-tocky-tilly
Come ‘round tomorrow and we’ll beg, steal and borrow
As we laugh at yesterday and the things we didn’t say
And the fearsome future? Grab the bitch and smooch ‘er!

Copyright, 2005 by
J.A. Coppinger
All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 28, 2005


Where do I begin?

Well, let's start with the fact that I have completely tanked on NaNo this year. I have written a grand total of . . . (wait for it!) ZERO words in the last week! I am just under 30k and there is NO WAY I am getting any writing done this week. I'm taking vacation with the family next week and I have a mountain of crap to get done before I go.

My contractor did finally return but he's been moving slowly (waaaaayyyy too damn slow for my wife's taste, as she has pointed out to me 24/7 without pause for breathe over the last week!) I talked to him this morning and he's promised to have the bulk of everything done by this Friday. He can do that with little trouble if he actually sends full crews to do the work. He's been sending 2-3 guys a day to putter around with minor stuff and it's killing me. I need to have certain things done before we leave for vacation, otherwise my wife is going to kill the contractor -and me!- and bury both our bodies where we'll never be found. (One might ask -and I have!- how any of this is my fault, but obviously within the confines of female logic I am mysteriously responsible for the entire situation and subject to verbal abuse, cursing, finger pointing, and when all else fails: complete wifely silence for my role in this farce. See? I can even piss off the wife when I'm just standing there!) If ever again I mention hiring a contractor to work on my home, please feel free to kick me in my large, stupid, ass and remind me of this fun time in my life!

So, the boy brought home his report card for the semester and got hisself in a whole world a' trouble!! Honestly, the grades were not bad at all, most in the mid 80's with a 100 and a 90 mixed in for fun, but for him that's really low. Turns out (after some not so gentle parental nudging) his problems came from not doing homework and/or getting assignments turned in on time. His test scores were all flawless, but he's been blowing off the work with a: "I already understand it, why do I have to do homework?" attitude. OYY!! He has consequently lost all the fun stuff in his life and has to spend much time with yours truly going over his work on a daily basis. He has endured many loooooonnnnnggggg lectures on the importance of the work process and learning to schedule his time, work quickly, neatly, and efficiently, etc, etc. . . I think he's getting it at this point and I expect to see dramatic increases to the grades this semester. (Else I shall have to beat the poor child with a very large stick!) We spent most of the afternoon yesterday studying spanish and learning about outlines and scheduling his time. He was actually pretty pleased when we finished because he was comfortable with the spanish and could see how the other stuff was going to make his work move faster and easier. See, that's the big secret I've picked up after years of teaching folks in the workplace: show them that your methods will make their job EASIER and they'll jump all over it. Seems to work with kids too!

Other than that, the holiday was nice. Spent time with both the wife's and my family. The boy had a blast at my clan's, he's old enough now to sit with the adults and enjoy the talk and stories (we are big on the stories: the wilder, louder, and more ludicrous, the better!) He laughed is butt off and wants to know why we don't see them more often. Don't have an answer for that really - my family just gets together 1-2 times a year. We're all just busy folks I guess.

Writing . . . working through a big question right now. I'm wondering if I'm pushing in the wrong genre. I write mostly epic fantasy but it's always a struggle for me. I'm weak on world-building, backgrounds, etc. The only book I've written that I was able to coast through was a DF/Horror novel (kind of King-esque) and I find that I have three or four other books in that vein that are pressing at the inside of my tiny brain. Am I working in the wrong genre? Should I push through on "First" or should I hop over to one of the new concepts and see if it runs as easily as the other DF novel? I don't know. Right now I'm too confused and battered by life to make any rational decisions. I'm just running on auto-pilot for now. I'll let you know when I finally touch down on the runway.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'm Still Breathing!

Not Dead.
Not Lost.
Not Writing.
Contractor Found.
Life is Kicking My Ass.
Will Post A.S.A.P.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fate Hath Pissed Upon Me

NaNo Count - 23,368 words.

Have we ever discussed the dangers of tempting fate?

Was it just yesterday I said that things were looking up and my stress levels were coming down so I could really start focusing on writing? (silly, silly, boy!) I just had to poke at the fates, didn't I? Spout off and bring their attention down on me . . .

As of this writing, the contractor who has been doing my house has simply disappeared. I haven't seen him in two full days. I've left several messages on his voice mail and answering machine . . . nothing. The man has fallen off the ends of the earth, leaving my house only 1/2 complete! AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!

He may show up. He may have a legitimate reason for not coming to my home but it pisses me right-the-fuck-off that he hasn't called! Can't make it? No problem. Have to be on another job for an emergency? I can understand that . . . JUST CALL AND LET ME FRIGGIN' KNOW!!! I hate waiting and wondering worse than anything. Right now I feel like my insides are being slowly twisted with a bend of barbed wire that's been dipped in castor oil (nice visual, huh?) I have this overwhelming feeling of dread that tells me I have been royally screwed and I am up the proverbial creek . . .

Well, I got some writing done today anyway, though it was one hell of a struggle with my brain focused on the house. Anyway, don't have much heart to write the blog today either, so I'm gonna bail.

Oh, if you come across my contractor in your travels . . . ask him to call me, please. Failing that, feel free to bash his fucking skull in with a nail-studed 2x4 and back your vehicle over his bloody carcass several times. (Now THERE'S a happy thought!)


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


NaNo Count - 19757 words

Okay, so I'm behind the mark! That's because I missed four full days of writing over the weekend.

On Friday, I took my son's Scout troop up to West Point for the weekend (Folks, if you have never seen the Point in autumn, I suggest you plan a trip for next year! It has got to be one of the most beatiful places on earth!) We took a tour of the point, saw the Parade of Cadets, and got to see the Army vs: U-Mass football game on Saturday afternoon. (which was one of the most exciting football games I've seen in 30+ years of watching!) The weekend was wonderful, albeit a little stressful for yours truly.

See, I've been an Asst. Scout Master with the troop for two years now, but this was the first time I was the man completely in charge of a trip. I've always had the SM or one of the more experienced ASM's with me when we go out. This weekend though, I was "the man" in charge of 30 some-odd kids, along with a few assorted siblings and a good twenty adults. I had to keep things running on schedule, account for all the boys in and out of a 50,000 person crowd at the game, get them all out to dinner, back to camp, evening's entertainment, campfire, Sunday breakfast, camp breakdown & cleanup, butts in seats, travel back home, unload equipment & make sure all boys were picked up . . . all the while handling all questions, problems, injuries, and minor disputes that arose. Big stress on me . . . but DAMN, it was fun!!!!! I think I did a decent job. The kids all had a blast and the parents all went home with smiles, so . . .

That killed me through Sunday, and yesterday was Mon-fuckin'-day with a vengeance! Work was nuts, but I had to leave early to take care of home renovations and get the boy to a friend's house so they could finish up a school project. Then it was off to grab dinner and rush to Home Depot to order flooring and tile. Then a stop at the food store, and back home about 10:00 p.m. Too damn whooped to write!

Truth to tell, I have been struggling the last week with writing because the wife and I have been fighting. I can't tell you how draining it is to my creativity when we fight. When things are good with us, I can take the work crap, life craziness, unexpected emergencies, etc. in stride and keep on writing. When she's mad at me though it throws off my whole inner balance (Oooh! How metaphysical I sound!) fighting with her is the only thing I know of that can totally side-track me from everything else in my life. Nothing else that happens ever really bothers me that much - I'm a pretty mellow guy- but having her upset with me really blows me out of the water. Hmmm . . . does that mean I really love her? (Nahhhh, let's not get silly, now!)

Good thing is, we worked it out (not sure how we manage that but thankfully, we always do!) and things are cool again. We're still both a little high strung from the renovations but I can handle that. If I can keep from pissing her off (again!), I may still make my NaNo goals!

Now wasn't that a fun detour into my dull little life? Sorry, folks, wish I had earth shattering news or grand ideas about the nature of Life, the Universe, and Everything (42! 42, goddammit!) but I do not. I am just a little man, toiling away at a big dream, making small amounts of progress in my own miniscule mind.

Wanna tag along for the ride? :-)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stress Balls

NaNo Count - 15,602 words.

I'm still ahead of the game, and enjoying the words I'm getting. A lot of it is running verbose (yea, I know: you're shocked by that!) and will need some serious editing but that's what NaNo is about right? Words on the page!

Stress levels are kicking into high gear in my tiny little world right now. The wife is sick of living in just one room of our home while the construction is going on and wants it done ASAP. Of course, yesterday my contractor just disappeared without letting me know he wasn't coming and hasn't returned my calls yet so she's sooooooo happy right now! (which of course means: I'm sooooooo happy right now!) The boy and I are heading out camping this weekend and I'm loaded up with things I need to get done before we leave tomorrow. Of course, the fact that I'm going away to "play in the woods" while the house is torn apart is thrilling the wife to no end. (Did I mention: I'm sooooo happpy right now?) Add to that my NaNo writing schedule and it adds up to one giant ball of stress and arguing at home. I do believe the wife is not pleased with me at the moment. (Her not speaking to me for the last 24 hours might be a clue, don't ya' think?) Ah well, such are the joys of married life.

I stopped in over at Forward Motion to do a Crit for one of the ladies in my Circle (Mel, specifically. Hi, Mel!) and I was thrilled at the work she'd done. She took her opening chapters and completely re-worked them following comments from Lee and I. I believe she took to heart all the things Lee had brought back from her writer's conference and really made it work for her. It was some wonderful stuff she put up. It makes me think there may be hope for my long-winded ass yet!

I need to put that same level of re-work into my current novels. The stories are good (I think) and the writing is sound but I need to look at it from a commercial standpoint. I need to make sure I'm hooking the reader early and leading them forward in the story with the right amount of mystery and wonder. Lee and Mel have both pointed out that I have a tendency to get lost in the descriptions of my worlds, and open with setting instead of action. It's funny, because early on I thought I did way too much action, with no description, and sort of pushed myself into writing this way. Seems I may have flown right past the mid-ground and landed at the far end of the spectrum on that. The answer? Edit, edit, edit!

So, I did go out to lunch last week with the old friend from high school. (wife was not thrilled at me going out to lunch with another woman but she was cool and let it go.) It was a lot of fun. We spent most of the time talking about our kids and what had happened to each of us after we lost contact. it was funny how many similarities there were in our lives. Seems we both left home at very young ages -and not long after we'd lost touch- and spent a goodly number of years out-of-control before settling down into some semblance of normalcy. Now, we're both pushing 40 and spend most of our time trying not to screw up our children the way our parents screwed us up. (Yes, I realize the boy wil be screwed up despite my best efforts. We all are in one fashion or another, but I'm talking about degrees of insanity here!) It was nice to see her again. She's even stopped by here and left me a comment on the blog!

Ah well, too much to do to keep chatting. I am knee-deep in a HUGE software upgrade and roll-out at work so I gotta get back to it. BTW: I'm leaving early for the camping trip tomorrow, so I may not be posting again until the return of that "most-heinous-day-from-the deepest-pits-of-hell" which begins each week.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Checking In

NaNo Count - 13,066 words.

And that don't include today!

Crazy busy at work today and Scouts tonight so writing may be tight but I'll get SOMETHING in tonight! I'm falling behind my personal schedule, but still on track for the month. I'm not too worried, I will pick up better days over the next few weeks, the weekend was running both days and yesterady & today I couldn't take a lunch at work so I got damn all done there. The nights have been crazy - meetings with the contractor & visiting different stores (Sears, Home Depot, etc.) to order the other stuff we need (appliances, flooring, carpet . . . )

I do not recommend NoNoWriMo-ing and renovating all at once. (unless you are a complete masochist!)

The story is rocking: lots of darkness, evil twists and turns, characters in VERY unpleasant situations and more coming to mind with each page. MMWWAAAAHAAAAHAHAH!!!!!! (sorry!) I'm just worried about how long this is going to get if I keep running with all these ideas! I am NOT good at short pieces. Seems that everything I write needs four novels at 200,000 words each . . . OY!

Anyway, gotta bolt. Just wanted to check in. More time to chat tomorrow (I hope!)


Monday, November 07, 2005

Silent Hero

I have something on my mind I want to share with you folks today. It's important, and I hope you'll take the time to read through my ramblings and maybe pass a link to other folks you know.

I want to tell you about my brother-in-law, Bill.

Bill is serving in the Air National Guard, just as he's been doing for the last 18 or so years. He's one of the most solid, dependable, helpful guys you could ever hope to meet and I'm pretty damn proud to have him as a member of my family. Here's one reason why:

Bill's unit is currently deployed in Biloxi, Mississippi helping rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed by Katrina. Their day starts early (it's the military after all!) and they work hard all day with the Corp of Engineers: repairing roads, removing debris, etc. It's a hot, dirty, unpleasant task but that's what these guys do. Their primary function is runway repair but they're highly skilled heavy equipment operators and road builders, so this is right up their alley. That's their job and they're happy to do it. These are men and women who volunteered for just this type of service and the fact that they're out there, helping repair such an immensely damaged area is something to make us all proud of them. These are folks who deserve a whole lot of honor for just doing their duty.

Now, consider this:

After long days of busting their hump in the hot Mississippi sun, it would be a perfectly reasonable thing for these people to head back to base, get some food, take a shower, and catch some well deserved rest. These folks are working seven days a week, so that's what I'd be doing! Not these guys though. Instead of going back to base; as soon as their shift is over, these men and women are grabbing their tool belts and going door-to-door throughout Biloxi, helping everyone that they can to rebuild their homes. They're ripping out mildew covered walls and putting up new drywall. They're humping 100 lb. packages of shingles up ladders and replacing roofs. They're cleaning out yards and helping mothers sort through the scattered debris to find their child's favorite toy. They're doing this without pay, without incentive . . . on their own time and with no expectation of praise or thanks. The men and women of the Air National Guard are working 16-18 hour days, seven days a week to help people in desperate need. They're not being paid. They're running on just a few quick hours of sleep. They're miles from their wives and families. They're working under some of the worst conditions imaginable and doing it without complaint. There's no news crew watching them, no officer ordering them to do this . . . they're doing it when they could be warm, clean, comfortable, and well fed back at base intead of up to their armpits in mud, mold, and misery. Why are they doing all of this?

Because they can.

That's my brother-in-law, Bill. Him, and thousands of others, who put on a uniform and do the right thing because it needs to be done. I'm proud to have him in my family.

I'm proud of all of them.

Thanks for listening in.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shop till I Drop

NaNo Count - 7,222 words.

That's an additional 3,160 today. I love it! It's moving well, and I don't have to worry about anything right now other than words on the page. I get to follow the story as it unfolds and enjoy the hell out of it. Today, my MC finds out that his arrogance has led his men into a very dangerous situation that they are not prepared to handle. He has to swallow his pride and run for home or watch his men all die. Fun stuff to write!

Funny thing happened the other night (though the wife did not find it nearly as amusing as I did!) I left a pen in the pocket of one of my shirts and it got washed. It was all well and good until it hit the dryer, then the damn thing burst like Old Faithful, destroying all the clothes in the dryer and leaving a lovely mass of blue stains on the white enamel. (now, LUCKILY all the clothes in that load were mine. I shudder to imagine the hell I'd have faced if any of my wife's delicate frillies were in there!) The wife did only a minor freak, but was panicking over the damage to the drum of the dryer and worried if it would ever be usable again. So there I was, at midnight, on my knees with a srub pad and a bucket of hot water loaded with bleach scrubbing the inside of the dryer. Big fun for me!!!!! I just finished getting it spotless when the wife came downstairs -after searching the Internet- to tell me it would all come right out if we soaked some old rags in bleachy water and ran them through the dryer. (great timing, dear!) My knees and back would have loved that info some 20 miutes earlier!!!! Ah well, I post it here for the benefit of you my loyal readers (though I truly hope none of you are as stupid as I am, so you'll never need it!)

So, to finish off this story: I lost all my jeans, and two of my favorite shirts to the evil gods of India Ink. That means . . . (wait for it . . . !) . . . SHOPPING! (kill me now!) Men and women are not meant to shop together.

Not ever.

Not for any reason.

We went out last night to replace the damaged clothing and I thought the wife was going to have a stroke. I shop very simply: I go into my chosen store, look for my chosen brand of jeans . . . do they have it? No. Fine, let's go to another store. No, dear, I do NOT want to look around and see what else they have. Yes, I can see those pants are on sale . . . no, I don't want to try them on! Can we go now please?

So, off to the next store we go. Do they have what I'm looking for? No. Okay, they have the same brand in a different style - that's good enough for me. What, dear? Yes, I know the other store had this style too. No, I don't want to go back there to compare the prices. Yes, I could have bought these at the first store, but I thought this store wold have exactly what I wanted. No, I am not going to a third store. Two is my formal limit: if I go to more than that I may have to hurt some passing stranger . . . What, dear? Well, that's just rude! I didn't bring your family ancestry into this, now did I? I certainly didn't call you any vulgar anatomical terms . . . !

Get the picture? Let men shop the way we shop. We don't care what it costs, and don't care if it's "not exactly the right shade". It's close enough! I can fit my hairy white ass into 'em . . good enough!

To top it off, when I tried the jeans I bought on this morning, she didn't like the way they fit on me . . . so guess what we're doing tonight? (sigh.)

Hey, maybe the world will come to a fiery end before we head to the mall! Maybe this is my lucky day and the Apocalypse is going to occur just after work tonight. Man, that would be so cool! Anything would be better than having to shop!


(someone pleeeeasss save me!)


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On My Way

NaNo Count - 4,026 words.

I picked those up over lunch today; I never did get to writing last night. The day just kicked my ass. Work was crazy and depressing, I got home and there was a ton of stress waiting in the form of my contractor, and the meeting I went to for Boy Scouts ran into the 3+ hour range. I got home, ate (at 10:20 p.m. which is SOOOOO good for my waist!) sat and stared at the TV with the wife (who had about the same day I did!) for 1/2 hour before we both crawled off to bed to try and forget yesterday had even happened.

Today is going much better (so far!) I cranked out the 4k on "First" without batting an eye. I LOVE it when the words come that easy! Work is not breathing down my neck at the moment and the contractor should have all my electric work done today and start moving into sheetrocking the place by the end of the week.

I think I'm going to keep my NaNo Count at the top of each post for November. Do you care how many words I write? Probably not, but making myself accountable to you for progress is a great inspiration when I feel like letting it slide. So, at the moment I am ahead of the game for NaNo day 2, but behind on my personal schedule because of the missed day. I hope to make up the difference though and get a full 90,000 words on "First" this month. I tried that last year as well, but fell short. I only made 68,000 words which (to be honest) was thrilling! I'd never done anything like that before. I probably won't make the 90k this year either, there are a bunch of scheduled events/holidays, etc. in there to throw me off but I'll give it my best shot.

I think I'm going to have to wait on the "business" work I was spouting about the other day until the contractor finishes up. I just can't get to anything right now, it's all in boxes or buried under boxes. When my office is done I can move on that. For now, I can barely squeezze my fat ass into the space where I can get at the computer! Ah well, work summons . . .gotta run.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So it Begins!

NOVEMBER 1, 2005

NaNoWriMo is here!

Today is (of course!) an insanely busy day but I WILL get my words in (though it may not be untile late tonight!) The weekend was just as crazed. I was supposed to go camping but had to cancel because the boy had a major school project and I had to work on some problems with the house. Also, the wife was sick as a dog and needed some help. Worst of all: I had a friend call & invite me to the NY Giants game on Sunday but I had to turn down the tickets and (of course!) they play what may have been the greatest game in team history! Yes, I am the walking poster boy for Murphy's Law!

Anyway, just a quick not for now. I have a trainee in, two reports to complete, and at least a dozen problems I have to address before I head for home tonight. After that it's Boy Scouts all evening (till about 9:30) after which I will cram myself into a very uncomfortable (at the moment) office and crank out my 3,000 words for the day (that is my personal NaNo goal).

If you're doing NaNo yourself: god help you, you crazy bastard!
If you're not: what the hell are you waiting for? It's the annual writer's ball! GO JOIN!