Thursday, March 31, 2005

Writing and the Chunky Ass

GS is moving along well. I added another 2k words today on an insert chapter I needed and I'm hoping to get in much editing work tonight. The boy is at his grandmother's until Saturday and the wife is working late tonight so I'll have the house to my lonesome. That's a mighty rare occurence! Didn't have the energy last night to delve into "Fish". I will get to it soon though. . .


I'm tired today. I was up late last night, running the boy down to the grandparent's house, then back home to do my fair share of the household chores. (Okay, so the wife does twice as much as I do, what's your point?) We taped "West Wing" last night and watched it after the house was cleaned so I didn't get to bed until after midnight, which is late by my standards. I was dragging when I got up this a.m. for work. They say (who the hell are they anyway and why do they talk so much?) that you need less sleep as you get older but I haven't seen any signs of it yet. If I don't get a solid 8 hours (more if possible!) I'm am totally wasted the next day. The wife is my complete opposite, she regularly runs on 3-4 hours of sleep and always has twice as much energy as I do. Of course, that might have something to do with me getting to be as big as a house . . .

Weight is becoming an issue (becoming? Oh hell, let's be honest: it's been the pink elephant in the room my whole life! No puns intended.) I am starting to feel it in my back and legs when I get up in the morning. I'm also concerned about doing all the stuff I do with the Scouts. I can just see a group of 11 year olds trying to cart my tubby ass down the side of a mountain after I go into cardiac arrest. (I can see the headline: "Small children crushed by pudgy bald guy") I've done every diet under the sun, even the whole pre-packaged food and low carb kicks. No permanent changes. The thing that always kills me is exercise. I do alright with it for a while but then the weather or illness or something throws me off track and the whole plan collapses. I have a new plan (The wife is sighing and holding her head in her hands. Cheer up, dear, this one will work! No, really . . . hey, stop laughing!) Actually, it's a pretty simple plan that will allow me to take care of the exercise thing without spending any money, or worrying about hurting myself, or being rained out. I'm coupling it up with some simple dietary adjustment (Goodbye, Ring Dings!) that shouldn't be too taxing either. I'll let you know how things go. If it works the way I hope, I'll post all the info here on the Blog (not that any of you are heavy or anything. Well, maybe you, but we like you anyway . . .)

Gotta tell ya, I have a brother (one out of five) who has been thin his entire life. (Bastard also has hair, but that's another rant!) He was a personal trainer for a while and has always been well muscled with a flat stomach and all that happy crap. He always said all I had to do was exercise for 20 minutes a day and all the weight would fall off and I'd look just like him. He never listened when I tried to explain it didn't work that way (Damn workout Nazi's never do!) that I gained weight by looking at food while he ate three Big Macs for lunch and dropped two pounds. Now, the man is married, with a desk job, a mortgage and a kid. Last time I saw him he looked like he was expecting an Alien to burst out of his paunch at any moment. (He's also losing his hair!) It's mean to say, but I was very satisfied to see him finally come up against the Weight Monster. I asked him why he didn't just work out for 20 minutes and he walked away from me, grumbling under his breath and shooting me nasty looks.

Mean, but satisfying.

If you don't have weight issues (did I mention I hate you?) you can't fully appreciate how hard it is to get it off once it's on. I can pack on 20 lbs without blinking (or knowing!) but it takes me 6 months of dieting and exercise to get it off again. Just ain't fair, is it? Oh well, enough whining for today. I'll keep you posted on "The Plan".


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Creepy Stuff

So I didn't get to either GS or the Horror Novel last night. Ya know, I don't know if "Horror Novel" is a good term for it. It's more of a contemporary fantasy with some scary crap thrown in for fun. In any event, it's a rough one to write. There are a lot of echoes of my own (not always pleasant) childhood in it and it rakes me over the coals each time I touch it. I can only hope it's worth the depression that ensues after each session at the screen. Actually, I think it's my best work (which ain't saying much; seeing as I've got no novels published yet!) To be fair though, I've never submitted any of my novels and I do have one professional short story sale, along with one pending, so maybe I'm not as bad as I fear. (Here's hopin'!) Anyway, the Horror Story --which is hereafter to be referred to as "Fish"-- (don't ask!) really makes me dig very deep into those dank, nasty, places in my heart that I'd just as soon lock up and lose the key to!

It's about loneliness, abuse, being an outsider and giving up on life (sounds just dreamy, don't it?) all things I have more than a passing aquaintance with. The usual fantasy stuff I do doesn't have quite that level of angst in it. I prefer things that are a bit more heroic. Is that avoidance? Beats the hell out of me. All I know is when I write GS & "Clans" I feel good afterward. I think that I've got good storylines going (though the poor ladies from my Crit Cricle may beg to differ!) and they're pretty well written. Whenever I work on "Fish" I feel like someone just kicked me in the nuts and ran off, dragging the corpse of my dead puppy behind them on a barbed wire leash. (see what I mean? Creepy stuff!) It's the most important thing I've written so far though (to me). There's a lot of things in it that I think are important to talk about. I don't know if it will ever see the light of day (might burst into instant flame if it did!) but I know that I need to finish it for myself anyway. Funny thing is, there are some really nasty scenes in it that I have a hard time writing. Not because the words won't come (sadly, they pour out like a waterfall) but because the content itself disturbs me. I worry that folks who know me might think that I am that type of person. Oh well, that's one of the dangers of this job I guess. I can only imagine what his friends and family had to say about Stephen King when he first hit the scene! (Now, of course, he's "brilliant, darling!" but back then he was probably just that creepy little Stevie kid . . .)

See? We've discovered yet another good thing about writing: self directed emotional therapy in the form of psychotic characters! You'll browse away from my blog today with something to think about. And they say there's nothing good on the internet! Sheesh!


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

It Totally Rocked!

So Jon left a comment on my link to Holly Lisle's take on the Schiavo case yesterday. I could have responded in another comment but I wanted it bumped to the front page because the link he provided here had some fantastic information. Holly also posted a response to some of her e-mails today (warning: it's a bit harsh!) that I thought was pretty interesting.

Jon's links show that Holly was definitely off base with some of her facts (particularly with regard to the CAT scans, etc.), but I don't think that she was "full of crap". While I am no legal expert, even after reading the transcipts of the court decisions I was not convinced that the word of mouth hear-say evidence that was accepted as being "what Terri would have wanted" was sufficient. I am still of the belief that in the lack of absolute evidence, the courts should err on the side of caution and maintain her life support. I am however, convinced by Jon that the "evilness" of her husband Michael has been dramatically and probably unjustly, exagerated by people with their own moral axes to grind. At the end of the day, the courts made this decision, not Michael Schiavo. It all comes down to this: if you don't have a Living Will, get one. Now.

Enough of that, let's on to the exciting . . .

I did over 30 pages of editing on GS last night (Is that a lot? Don't know, but it's a huge amount for this old boy!) Damn funny thing about it: I walked away from it and felt like dancing. I was absolutely thrilled about how the story was coming out. It almost felt like I had just finished reading a really great novel (which, of course, I had!) I have never really experienced that before. The wife kept asking why I had a such stupid grin on my face and I couldn't explain it. To quote my son: "It totally rocked!" (I am saving his preferred: "It totally rocked, out loud!" for the day I actually sell a novel.) Editing (and writing sometimes) is very often a tedious chore for me. Hitting a day like yesterday where I was happier coming out than when I went in, was like a gift from (Insert your preferred divinity here)!!! I even did a good 2000 words or so (handwritten!) of inserts and catch ups. it was a very good writing night.

I need more of those.

I even got some reading in last night before I staggered off to bed. (It beat the hell out of watching "The Bachelor" with the Mrs.! I'm sorry, that has got to be the worst program on TV!) I am actually reading Holly Lisle's "Memory of Fire" (I figgered I owed it to her to pick up a few of her books since her site's been such a huge help to me. It's some really good stuff too. I recommend it to all. If you want to see a remarkable concept for a functional magic system in fantasy - these are the books!) I can't get the 2nd book of the series in any of my local stores, so I'll probably have to order it online. I also picked up "Slaughterhouse Five" (Okay, I admit I've never read it! Now they're going to throw me out of SciFi Geek of the Month Club!) I like Vonnegut, but I've never read what many consider his finest work - go figger!

Busy night tonight - Boy Scout stuff to do so I don't know if I'll get any work on GS in. I need to start work on the Horror Novel next. Maybe I'll pick up on that tonight. For now, I'm letting "Clans" gestate for a bit before I start the edits. I also want to finish GS first. I am NOT editing two novels at once!


Monday, March 28, 2005

Something to Scare You

This is off Holly Lisle's site and it's some damn frightening stuff. I personally don't have any problems with folks who want to check out early (I'm pro elective suicide) and I have a Living Will myself, but the idea of the government deciding who goes and who stays . . . [shudder!]

The Return of Monday

Back again!

The weekend was great! The play was really well done, even better than I hoped, and my son was enthralled. Hard part for both of us was not singing along . . . We did Easter at my sister-in-law's house. she does a big egg hunt for all the assorted nieces/nephews/cousins, etc. God bless her (she's nuts!) she does it every year for 15-20 kids with their parents along for baggage. (The kids are never trouble, it's always us so-called adults . . .) Fun part is that my two Brother-in-law's and I do the egg hiding. This means we get to be extraordinarily mean to the older kids (my son being on of them!) by hiding the eggs in impossible locations. My best was prying up a paver brick from the patio and burying one of my boy's eggs under it, then replacing. My son says he officially hates me now. (Yesss, we hatesss him, doesn't we, precious? Filthy fathersss! They hidesss our eggssess, don't they?) Okay, now that was a scary little detour into the depths of my psyche, wasn't it?

No writing or editing at all this weekend. (Sensing a pattern?) I am definitely a weekday writer at this point. I can usually squeeze 1-2 hours in a day between lunch and evenings but the weekends are just too busy for me now. Maybe when I become a full time writer (yes, hope springs eternal!) I'll be able to do some weekends. Wonder if I'll need to though? I'm good for 1,000+ words an hour on a fairly regular basis so I'm thinking if I work 5-6 hours/day I should be good with a five day week, right? (Okay, all you pros stop that snickering right now! Did you hear me? I mean it now . . .) The wife and kid are on vacation this week, so they stopped in to take me to lunch, which is always a very cool thing. 15 years married and I still like hangin' with her. That's gotta be a good thing, no? The boy always makes me laugh so there's never a dull moment with him about. Only drawback: no writing done at lunch today. Oh well, there's always tonight.

Watched "The Ten Commandments" last night on DVD (Okay, "watched" may not be the right word. I sort of half-listened to it while giving my eyes an extended rest period on the couch.) That's a family tradition. The boy actually enjoyed it this year. It's the first time he's been old enough to watch it from start to finish and keep up with the story line. It's pretty cool watching them grow.

I was thinking it over this weekend and I'm pretty sure I'm procrastinating with the GS edits on purpose. It's that fear thing again: once they're done, I have to start looking for an agent and doing query letters, proposals, etc. That's all new territory and it scares the spit out of me. That's the point where I'll have to stop imagining I'm the greatest writer since Dickens and get some real feedback from the folks who make money at it. Very worried (read: gibbering) that I don't have what it takes at all. [Sigh.] Only one way to know for sure. (I know that mentally, but the screaming simian inside my brain is still chattering from the tree tops!)

Did some Crits over on FM today. I really am picking up a lot from those ladies. In particular, I find that I use way too many commas when I write. I catch most of them in editing (I hope!) but you ain't seen a run-on sentence until you've looked at one of my rough drafts! This is a source of much amusement for both ladies. (I believe one of them gave me the dubious credit of the longest run-on she'd ever seen!) I comfort myself by saying that the brilliance of my prose cannot be constrained by the niceties of punctuation. (Wow, the BS is gettin' deep in here, eh?)

Just a quick side note: if you folks haven't done so yet, you should swing by the sites I have links to on the sidebar (yea, over there on the left . . .) Some of it is amazing stuff. A wide array of personalities, voices, and viewpoints. All of it is writing related in one way or another and I have picked up an incredible amount of info from all of them: so set to it, folks!


Friday, March 25, 2005

Editing and Entertainment

Did 2000 words today on GS inserts. I'm picking up the comments I started making during editing before I move on. When I get to the end of the mark up phase, I only want to have to do the red mark stuff during type-in. I don't want to have more chapters to write.

It's a drastic shift in gears for me to switch between "Clans" and GS. The tone of voice in each is so completely different! GS is a first person fantasy told by a smart ass self proclaimed 'barbarian' where "Clans" is a serious, third person Omniscient epic fantasy in the old school style! (Yo, damn straight fashizzle! Or some other phrase my old, middle class, white brain doesn't understand!) I have a blast writing GS though, there's a lot of humor in it and I love being a smart ass on the written page (Yea, I know: you're shocked!)

Gonna be a great weekend! Tomorrow: me, the wife, and the kid are going out for dinner at our all time favorite restaurant (Steak so tender you can cut it with a butter knife and chewin' is optional!) then out to see a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar". My son has no ide that we're going to see it. I got him totally hooked on the movie and the soundtrack, which I keep in my car (Yes, I am a dork. Wanna make something of it?) I think he's going to get a big kick out of seeing it done live. I am a big fan of stage productions. I have yet to see any film (Okay, maybe LOTR . . .) that thrills me as much as watching real people working their craft. The wife and I went to see "Little Women" on broadway not long ago and I was stunned -as always- by the skill of the actors and singers and the raw energy they put out to entertain my silly old ass. It's some remarkable stuff. I even love going to local high school productions. One of the best plays I've ever seen was done by a HS drama club. They did "Camelot" (Alright, I love musicals! I admit it!) and it floored both my wife and I. The kids did the storming of Lancelot's castle at the end by charging unexpectedly down the aisles from the rear of the theater toward the stage. It was beautiful!

Little bit crazy at work today. We're opening a new regional office so most of out IT guys are down there helping with the move. That leaves yours truly as the only "IT" guy available to help 300+ engineers. Lucky me! I don't really do IT: I'm mostly training and development with a touch of software support thrown in for kicks. I've done enough hardware work over the years though that the real IT folks have unoficially adopted me as a fellow geek. I know just enough about what I'm doing to know when I'm in over my head and stop. That's the key to brilliance right there: knowing when it's time to stop and ask for help. Good advice for all. I'll try to stop in and leave some posts over the weekend, but it's also a holiday (Easter) so I may not get the chance.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Decline of Modern Fantasy

I added another chapter to "Clans" today (a short one - only 2500 words) because Eleah from my Crit Circel on Forward Motion pointed out something I was missing. She was absolutely right but it did give the lie to my previous claim of being done. Now I can safely say it again: I'm Done! (unless of course I missed something else and it gets pointed out to me, which is not unlikely at all!) I did a good chunk of editing on GS last night & I'll hopefully get some more in tonight. I have to keep kicking myself as I do this. I'm putting together a lot of notes but I'm not stopping to hand write the new stuff in my notebook as I edit. I'm going to try and fix that before I go any further. If all I have are notes and have to go back, it's not really One Pass Editing, now is it? The problem of course, is that I hate writing longhand. I much prefer to type on the computer as I go. I can get into a solid groove with the keyboard and crank out a few thousand words at a clip with no problem. When using the pen, my arm gets tired and I stop a lot, which kills my flow. Worse, when I do go to type in the hand wrtitten stuff, I always get depreseed because what took up thirty pages in the notebook works out to 8-10 pages in Word. That always depressing.

I just noticed something last night: I haven't read a book in over a month now! That's got to be a new record for me. I'm usually doing 2-3 per week. (Often more because I always have at least two going at once, in different rooms of the house so I can just pick one up and read wherever I happen to be) I've just been too busy writing to read very much. It feels strange! Not to worry though, I'll be picking up some books this weekend. I've been pretty diligent about reading outside my preferred genre lately too. I write Fantasy/SF mostly and I've been broadening my horizons with a lot of historical fiction, thrillers, and I even tried a romance novel. (Sorry, folks, I just could not finish it! Time travelling Scots with huge muscles and even bigger . . . well, you know . . . It just wasn't my cup of tea.) I read John Jakes "North and South" series last. It was fascinating stuff. The writing can be a little dry at times, but the historical detail and the way he writes about portions of the Civil War I barely knew happened was fascinating. I reccomend it to all. I also read some Grisham and Louis L'amour. I haven't been thrilled with what's being published lately in the Fantasy field. I think what David Eddings and Terry Brooks are doing is a crime. Reprinting the same story lines a hundred times and changing the character/place names (or in Eddings case, using the same story and just changing POV characters!) does nothing to help the industry. I enjoyed the hell out of both their early works, but it's just plain sad to see where they've gone. Who knows, maybe I'll be the next great voice of the Fantasy world and everyone will praise my name and line up outside Barnes and Noble to buy my next book!

(That's okay, I wasn't planning on holding my breath either!)


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pissed Off Wife and Other Ramblings

So the wife is pissed at me today (no real surprise there!) She thinks I'm spending too much time at Boy Scouts and writing instead of being home to do. . . God knows what! (The wife knows too, but since she's convinced there's not much difference between herself and the Almighty . . . ) Let's be clear here: one can never spend too much time writing or camping! (leastways not in my world!) I don't understand why she takes such umbrage at my absence. When I'm home, my fat ass sits next to her on the couch, flipping channels on the tube; not exactly exhilerating companionship, ya' know? It's not like I'm out drinking, gambling, and whoring (It just ain't me, folks.) I'm hanging with my son and other kids, trying to help them learn some important things or I'm sitting in the next room typing and/or scribbling on sheets of paper with my red pen. (Christ, I'm dull!) Where's the bad? Oh well, maybe I should just be glad she misses me and move on, eh?

Here's something to ponder today: why is it inhumane to keep animals in cages, yet it's ok to lock up human prisoners? On the other hand, why is it alright to kill dangerous animals but not human beings (who are far more dangerous than the most pissed off bear you've ever met!) It seems contradictory to me that it's considered better to kill an animal than lock it up, but kinder to lock up a human than to kill him. Strange, no? I'm a little weird in this respect I guess. I have no qualms about the death penalty, but I'm a rabid supporter of civil rights. All too often it seems I'm the only one who supports both. I hear people scream about the prisoner's rights and how barbaric executions are. It comes down to a simple choice: who's rights are more important, the prisoner's or the victims. Personally, I think the victims civil rights take precedence (they after all, committed no crime!) and yes, I do think equal reparations is a right. If I steal $100 from someone, I should have to pay it back. If I kill someone, I should be killed. Simple, direct, and to the point.

I'm planning on doing a good bit of editing on GS tonight (after I run about a dozen errands, cook dinner, do dishes, take out the garbage . . . [sigh]) Editing is another of those things that scare me. I find many things to occupy me so I don't have to do it. I will not stop this time though: I will push through and get this book published! (Did that sound convincing? Yea, I thought it was a little shaky too . . .)


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It's Done! It's Done!

Holy Crap!.

I actually finished the first Draft of "Clans"! It fell out at 175,501 words after inserting some chapters and cutting some others. Damn, that feels good! I swear, there were times I thought the thing would never end. I know it only took me 4-1/2 months but it really did seem like an eternity at some points. This is new territory for me, I've never written so much so quickly before. Just doing a quick glance as I was inserting the new chapters I can see there will be MAJOR editing to be done. There are plot points, dialogs and other things that I don't even remember writing in there! Its going to have to sit for a while first. I need to get it out of my head for a bit and approach it with a fresh eye. I'll focus on editing GS and move on to finishing my horror novel next.

So, I was wondering about fear today. I'm afraid of a lot of things and I wonder if that makes me a weak person? I'm not afraid of the things I think most folks are: death, pain, etc. Failure scares the hell out of me though. It's funny (in a sad and pathetic sort of way!) that I can become so frightened of screwing something up that I freeze in place and wind up doing nothing at all. That's always been a problem with my writing until recently. I found it easier to "want to be" a writer than to actually write. That way, there was no risk of failure. That happens to me in a lot of things in my life. Even things like working around my home. I'm reasonably handy and can handle most construction projects without too much trouble but getting started on them is ridiculously hard for me (much to the wife's annoyance!) because I'm afraid I'll screw something up. I'm fine once I start the project, it's just getting to that point that causes me trouble. I'm getting (a little) better at pushing through the fear and just doing what has to be done but I'd hoped that if I did that for a while the fears would fade, or at least lessen.

They haven't.

If anything, now I'm more afraid of failing to push past the fear than I was of the original failure that frightened me. (Take a breath and re-read that. It does make sense. Really. I promise!) So how's that for a psychological nightmare, eh? And here you thought I was such a normal guy! I just wonder sometimes if I'm the only loon with these problems. No one around me seems to deal with this crap, or at least they do a better job of hiding it than I do. Anybody out there besides me ever get heart palpitations because you knew you had to mow the lawn and might accidentally screw it up? (Nah, I didn't think so . . .) Oh well, I'll just carry on and vent my insanity into my writing. Who knows? Maybe the other escapees from the asylum will actually pay money for my work someday . . .


Monday, March 21, 2005

Guns and Mondays

Monday never changes, does it? It waits to leap on your unsuspecting back . . .

I had a GREAT weekend: went camping and got in a lot of shooting, which was amazingly fun! I've never fired a weapon before and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. If you've never had the chance to shoot skeet, you haven't lived! What a blast (yes, pun intended!) I also got to fire an amazing array of hand guns and various other rifles, and enjoyed every one of them. The gentleman who had us as guests on his property was a fantastic host. He fed us, entertained us, provided all the facilities and let us try some of his remarkable weapon collection. All in all, one of the best weekends I've ever had. My son was even more thrilled than I was, he now wants to join a shooting club. I'll think about that for a bit and see how that goes..

So anyway, back to Monday - the work day sucked pickled penguin eggs. I didn't have a chance to breath, much less take a lunch so I got no writing in today either. I have a bunch of appointments after work tonight as well, so I doubt I'll get anything done then either. Everyone duck as the ". . .silicon chip inside my head/gets switched to overload" (Thank you for that little image Mr. Geldoff!)

So, I only have a few minutes to post today. Just wanted to say Hi and let y'all know I didn't shoot myself in the foot or anything. (Actually did really well on the skeet range: 7 for 15 on my first time out. Not remarkable I guess, but I'm damn proud of myself!)


Friday, March 18, 2005

My Little Hobby

It has been a crazy week (crazy month for that matter!) Seems I've been running non-stop. My viewing of the "Quiet Man" got interrupted last night by a minor boy Scouts emergency. Had to run out and help one of the other Scoutmasters get our trailer packed and ready because: We are camping again this weekend! (Woo Hoo!) Not only that, but we'll be shooting (something I have never done before). A former adult leader in our troop has a huge amount of land with shooting ranges, etc. and he's letting us use it for the weekend. I'm looking forward to this, I've always wondered what it was like to fire a gun but I've never had the opportunity before. I'll let you know how it goes.

Of course, the camping means no posts this weekend again (I know: you're very sad. Please don't cry on the keyboard though!) It also means no writing or editing! I'm telling ya' - having a life can be damned inconvenient to a writer's schedule! Oh well, I suppose that means I'll have to work harder next week.

I'm looking into buying a Laserjet now, my old Inkjet is failing and when I went out last night to buy new ink cartridges it cost me $64.00!!!!! (I'm sorry, but there is no frikkin' way you can justify charging people that much for two containers of ink!) The wife gave me a money lecture this morning on our finances and how expensive Laser printers are. She thinks they cost at least $800 or so. I couldn't convince her I can get a low end one for under $300. Quite frankly, she doesn't see the need for one. Her answer when I pointed out the expense of the cartridges and how quickly we go through them:

Wife: "Well, that's because most families aren't constantly printing entire novels on their printer!"

Me: "Yes, but this one is . . . get it?"

To which she just sighed and rolled her eyes. My wife is not particularly supportive of what she terms "My little hobby" (Yea, that really does piss me off!) She sees my writing as an annoying interruption of the important things I should be doing (Like taking out the garbage, cleaning the gutters, and installing new windows . . .) She doesn't understand the need to write. To her, it's a silly thing because I don't get paid for it (Yet!) and I put so much work into it for no apparent reason. The idea that I have to write is completely foreign to her. I don't know about the rest of you folks, but I'm borderline depressive when I'm not writing. The only thing that keeps me on any type of sane baseline is to write regularly. Otherwise, I get so sure that I'm wasting my life that I can't do anything (including all those chores the wife wants attended to!) because I'm moping about all day in a black cloud. I like myself when I write. I feel like I'm doing what I was put on this world for, even though I'm not published yet. I will be in time (sadly, I really do believe that without question!) Maybe when I bring in actual cash from writing, my wife will upgrade it from "little hobby" to "part-time job" or "a sideline".

I ain't gonna hold my breathe though.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Erin Go Bragh!

Ah, St. Paddy's day! Being 100% Irish I always enjoy this day, though being an old married man I no longer enjoy it in quite the same manner I used to! (Or the wife would hand me my head!) Even so, I've cobbled together a few pleasant traditions that make the day fun for us about the house. Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner (followed by an evening of mellow methane music, compliments of the males of the house! Big Fun!). Celtic tunes at work and in the car (much to the annoyance of co-workers, but they can all kiss my Blarney Stone!). Best of all, the wife already laid out my DVD of "The Quiet Man" for us to watch as a family tonight. One of my all time favorite films! John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara - what more could you ask for?

The wife left me a surprise greeting card for St. Paddy's in my car this morning. It was really nice and had some great hand-written mushy stuff in it. Fifteen years and the woman still loves me. Who'da thunk it? Sometimes we're luckier than we deserve, ya know?

Got 2200 words in on "Clans" today, and another 5 pages of editing on GS last night. Busy night, but I wedged them in there anyway. I really need to get that done so I can begin actually trying to become the published author I'm trying to be. (Did you not read the top of this blog??) Funny, I've tried the 'serious' writing thing before with very little success but this time it seems to be going much differently. I'm doing the work and I'm not being crippled by the fear that my writing sucks. (If you are asking: "what fear?" you're either not a writer and I pity you, or you are a writer and I hate you!) I think the difference is that I am working with folks on the Net and visiting a lot of sites/blogs done by people who are doing the same thing I am. It helps. A lot. I also spend time on professional writer's sites getting a much better idea of what I need to do and how. I've linked to all my favorites on the sidebar of this page, but I have to say that Holly Lisle's site has been my biggest aid. I've been writing alongside her as she's been doing her latest novel (Like a literary stalker!) trying to keep pace with her word counts and getting some great info on what it takes to be a pro. If there's a better site for writers than hers, I'm not aware of it!

Lastly, in honor of the day, here's one of my favorite Irish jokes:

An Engilshman, a Scotsman and an Irishman went into a pub for a pint of Guinness. After being served, a fly landed in each of their pints and stuck in the creamy heads. The Englishman pushed his pint away from him in disgust and proceeded to order another pint. The Scotsman simply fished the offending fly out with his finger and proceeded to drink his pint as if nothing had happened. The Irishman, eyes wide with anger grabbed the fly and held it over his pint shouting "SPIT IT OUT!!! SPIT IT OUT YOU BASTARD!!!"

Erin Go Bragh!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wednesday Weirdness

Another Meme to help cheer me up today . . .

1. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
The sharp knife. (kind of a required predecessor, don't ya think?)

2. How does the sense of smell work?
It's strictly a methane detector. (Least, that's how us men use it!)

3. If you had to spend $100 in 5 minutes, what would you buy?
You're assuming the wife would give me the chance . . . (5 minutes? Hell, she can drop that in 5 seconds at Macy's!)

4. Why answer weird questions when you can answer normal questions?
Because my weird answers draw strange looks from the latter! (Okay, I get the looks on both . . .)

5. When you pull out a Kleenex, the next Kleenex pops up. How's it know to do that?
It's made from the same top secret stuff as a thermos! It knows how to keep hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold! (I'm thinking mini A.I.'s that are plotting to overthrow the government just as soon as they've conquered all the cockroaches. Um. That was another weird answer, wasn't it? [sigh].)

Crit Groups and Memories

I believe I mentioned that I've been working with a Crit Group over on the Forward Motion site. I am working with two women who have been tearing apart my work on "Clans" with a vengeance! (Actually, they're both very nice and are gentle with my fragile self-esteem.) I've never worked like this before and I'm amazed at how much I'm learning about my own work. It has been pointed out to me that I have issues with InfoDump (which I knew) and I have a terrible habit of misusing commas (which I did not know). With just the three of us working round-robin on our novels, we're able to do some pretty detailed reviews and I'm really enjoying the process. I plan on simply printing out their Crits and using them as guides when I get to the editing for "Clans".

My other novel: GS, is moving slowly in the editing phase. The One Pass Editing method is working great, but it's tough to find free time in the evenings to work on it. I got about 5-6 pages in last night. At that rate, it should be done about a week after my fat ass drops dead from a heart attack. Maybe I need a few days off? Even the writing is dragging at this point. I've easily written 220k+ since the beginning of November, which is a hell of a lot for somebody doing this part time. Let's see, that's . . .

220k words / 4-1/2 months = 45k per Month (rounded) = 12k per Week = 1800 words per Day.

Yea, that's a lot.

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts today. I dreamed about my first girlfriend last night and I woke up this morning feeling very depressed. It took me a few hours to figure out it was because I haven't seen her in twenty years. Twenty years! Holy crap, I'm getting old! (Cool! A mid-life crisis on the blog!) I wonder where she is now and what she's doing? It's strange to think she doesn't look even remotely like I remember her (God knows I don't!). I wonder if she's fat, with four kids and graying hair? (I'd take gray. Gray hair is definitely better than no hair!) Hmmm . . . it just occured to me that she probably still thinks of me as being young and thin with long brown hair. Kinda nice to imagine someone out there still thinks of you as being in your prime! I still remember her exactly as she was at 17, with short blond hair, sparkling green eyes, and a smile that made dimples so deep on her cheeks you could get lost in them. She was something special. Yes, I have been married (happily, believe it or not!) for 15 years and my wife is even prettier than she was, but as they say: you never forget the first one.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Women can speak & other ramblings

Holly Lisle posted this on her site today and it struck me as particularly funny. My wife and I have an ongoing argument (of about 15+ years!) on this very subject. I am constantly getting my ass in a sling (and slings of that size are not easy to come by!) for not doing the things she's "asked" me too. All the while, she gives me crap for being "rude" because I say what I mean and mean what I say. There is definitely a gender issue here and I think Holly is dead on in pointing out that it's a completely pre-programmed crock that has been fed to women. They are brought up to always be polite, considerate, and never confrontational (except with husbands!) in conversation. Here's an example of a typical conversation that leads to fights in my house:

Wife: "The garbage needs to be taken to the curb tonight."
Me: "Yup, it's Tuesday."
Wife: "I don't want it to sit there, it will start to smell and draw animals."
Me: "Sounds like a plan."

Now, to my wife, that is a conversation wherein she has asked me to take out the garbage & I agreed to do so (Yea, right!) I heard the opposite: she realized the garbage needed to go out and meant to take it before the animals got at it. Worked for me! Of course, the following morning when the cans are still sitting there (an hour after the truck went by) I get lambasted for being a lazy, ignorant, slob. This all could have been avoided by direct communication. Example:

Wife: "Take the garbage to the curb, you lazy, ignorant, slob!"
Me: "Uh, okay."

See? Simplicity at work. Overcome that childhood training ladies! Rise above the sexist restricions male dominated society has placed upon your vocal capacity! Stand tall and refuse to submit to the tyranny of the penile dominated status quo! Free your words Free your minds!

Or, you can simply say whatever the hell it is you mean. That would work too.

Oh well, on to writing stuff. I got no editing done last night, it was one of those evenings where time seemed to go through some weird permutation whereby my clocks all skipped from 6:30 pm to midnight, with no stops in between. I can't even tell you what I did, but whatever the hell it was ate up the entire evening, so no work on GS. I did another 1700 words on "Clans" today at lunch, on what I'm calling my "Inserts" There are a lot of secondary character POV's and backstory issues I need to resolve and get in place before I can actually call the first draft "done" even though I've already gotten to the end of it. I'm at 170k now and I figure it to reach 185-190k before the Inserts are done. Don't really know what'll happen after the editing of this one, it's a bit long winded so it needs a lot of cutting, but the story's pretty complex so I'll be adding as well. Who knows, when it's done, I may well be at the same word count I am today!

I'm still pretty new to the whole blogging thing, so I'm just now discovering a lot of really entertaining sites that others no doubt visit regularly. One of the best has to be Wil Wheaton's site (yea, the kid from STTNG) The man has a great sense of humor and a very nice writing style. If you haven't had the opportunity before, take the time to visit, it's great stuff! The other places I really like I just BlogRoll onto the sidebar (yea, that's it . . . no, over on the left . . . now down. Now you've got it!) Most of them are writing sites but some are just plain fun. Pop in and visit 'em. I don't put them up unless I think they're worthwhile.

Oooh! I also like some of the Memes. This is the Monday Madness for the week so I figured I'd have some fun. The answers should give you a good insight into the sludge pile I call a mind (not that you really want to go there, but what the hell: be adventurous!)

1. I wish I had more __________.
Hair. Yes, my head is shaved and I call it a personal grooming choice (surrrrre it is!), but the truth is: it's damn cold without hair in the winter!

2. I usually think about changing my blog layout when _________.
CHANGE IT??? Christ, I just go the damn thing working . . .

3. If more people would be _________, the world would be a better place.
Like me. Definitely a better place if everyone was like me.

4. I really should __________ more often.
Shut up. I'll say it, since I know you're too polite . . .

5. The weather we're having right now is ________.
A mystery. No, really, my office has no windows so there could be a tornado and I'd never know . . .

6. When it's time to plant a garden, I'd like to plant ________.
A boot in the ass of whoever's making me work in the garden on a nice warm day . . .

7. When I'm running late, I sometimes forget to _________.
Put on my watch. Which just makes the stress worse. I know I'm late - but HOW late?

8. When I can't think of anything to blog about, I usually _________.
Hasn't happened yet. Give me time though . . .


Monday, March 14, 2005

Now I'm Pissed!

Alright, I'm back and I'm a little pissed.

Not about my weekend (that was great BTW!) but about THIS STORY I got a link to in an e-zine I subscribe to. The short of it is that a California judge has just ruled that three bloggers may have to reveal their information sources for articles they wrote pertaining to a new Apple Computer product called "Asteroid". Apple contends these bloggers are not actual journalists and hence not protected by the shield laws of that state. The judge refused to say whether they were, or were not, but ordered them to reveal their sources anyway. The judge claimed that their sources commited a criminal act under the state's 'Trade Secrets' laws and hence are not protected under the shield laws.

What a load of shit! How is it that nearly every source of criminal activity in the country is considered protected, except for where it infringes on the purse of a major corporation? How is it that major news outlets regularly protect their sources in government and organized crime (Both of which are crooks if you ask me!) and the Feds regularly provide witness protection to convicted murders, but these three folks can't protect their sources on an upcoming product release? Journalisitc sources need absolute protection, not on a case-by-case basis, but as a blanket protection under law! Without the ability to guarantee the anonymity of their sources journalists cannot do their job and the entire concept of a free press falls by the wayside. I know that under most state's shield laws: sources are not protected when they are party to the commision of a crime. The only 'crime' I see here is a breach of contract by the employees who gave the information to the bloggers. At worst, this is a civil case; not a criminal one and forcing a journalist (yes, bloggers ARE journalists! You bet your sweet little bippy they are, pal!) to reveal sources for it is a frightening precedent to set.

The judicial system seems to be working overtime recently to whittle away freedom of speech laws and it pisses me off to no frikkin' end! Hey, I'll be the first to tell ya' that folks like Jerry Springer and Doctor Laura, etc. are morons, but they have a right to spout their crap, just like I have a right to type out this blog entry! (I'm sure there's a bunch out there who are thinking I'm a moron too!) The day we start allowing corporations to decide how/when/what we can talk about in public is the day this society collapses. These writers did not post copyrighted or vital information, they talked about expected release dates and rumored functions of an upcoming product (A bit of publicity MOST companies would kill for, BTW!) Apple -and other corporations- are attempting to silence these bloggers in any way they can because blogs have worldwide reach without the corporate interdependency that restricts the truthful opinions of major news outlets. In short: bloggers can hammer Apple's piss poor products and cost the company a lot of money. Bloggers are answerable to no one, whereas the CEO of the N.Y. Times, may well sit on the board of Apple and play golf every week with Bill Gates. I won't even go into the conflict of interests caused by the Info-tainment conglomerates like Aol/Time Warner, etc. If you think the journalism in the outlets they control is unbiased, I have some lovely swamp land in Nevada I'd like to sell you . . .

Here's another link to a page with a lot of opinions on the subject. It frightens me how many corporate drones there are in this country. . . [sigh.]

Alright, done bitching now. Camping was very cool, I learned a ton of stuff (particularly about first aid) and I can't wait to implement it on the next campout with the Scouts. As I thought, I got no writing done at all, but one must have a life after all . . . I'll be trying to get some editing in on GS tonight so i'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Kids, TV and Camping

Children are always an adventure. I saw this today and had to laugh. Never a dull moment when kids are about!

No writing or posting this coming weekend - I'm off camping!! (Happy Snoopy Dance!) It'll be a nice weekend for it here, temps in the low 40's. Ground is going to be a little wet from all the snow melt and rain this week, but you can't have everything. Strange how much I've come to love camping, it's something I never did as a kid. My first time out was just over a year ago, with my son's Boy Scout troop and I've been hooked ever since. There is something about being out in the middle of all that stillness that I love. It's a damn good place for a writer to be. If you don't come back from a few days in the woods with out least a half dozen story ideas, you just weren't trying!

Last night was a big TV night, so nothing got done on either novel [sigh] "Survivor", "The Apprentice" and "The Contender" one after the other . . . I damn near overdosed on RealiTV, but it was fun. I'm liking "The Contender" more and more, though I suck at picing the winning fighter. so far I'm 0-2 . . .

Talk to you all on Monday!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Almost a Real Writer!

Edited nearly 20 pages in GS last night. Holly's One-Pass Editing is working like a charm. I'm having an easier time cleaning this up than I ever have before. It's a little unsettling in that I am cutting out HUGE chunks of the novel but they're sections that are not moving the story forward so they have to go. Luckily, a lot of it can be broken out and re-used as background and detail in smaller portions later on. Did I mention I'm the King of InfoDump?

Made the decision to end the first "Clans" book right where I am. I'm doing up a few insert chapters to fill in some more detail, and that should be it. I figure the rough draft to end out at the 180k mark (I'm currently at 170k). After that's done, I let it sit for a month or so, then jump into the OPE for this book as well. I imagine I'll be cutting it down to about 150k. That's a lot of words, dumped but some of it can be moved to the next book or just work as good background. (that's what I'm telling myself so I don't start whimpering!) While that's sitting and stewing, I'll be finishing off another novel (contemporary horror this time) that's at about the 60% mark. I even have two more novels set to run beyond that one. I feel almost like a REAL author!

Once I finish editing GS (hopefully by May 1st) I'll be on the prowl for an agent. That should be a fun adventure! From everything I've read on it, I think it's worth (trying to) get one rather than hoping an editor finds you on the slush pile. I'll keep you posted . . .

On other fronts: I've been trying to get some readership for this Blog, so I've signed up with some search engines, etc. and even started playing with a few memes. I'd like to think I'm not writing this just for myself, but what the hell? I have always liked the sound of my own voice.

According to my Stattracker account, I had thirty people visit me yesterday. Very cool! I hope you guys are enjoying my B.S.! Thank s for stopping in, and please leave a few comments!


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Wednesday Weirdness


I saw this site and liked the questions, so I figgered I'd have some fun . . .

1. Why are there bomb sniffing dogs and not bomb sniffing gerbils? Those little guys could go everywhere and sniff everyone.
Actually, this was tried by the Secret Service for the very reasons stated, but the program was discontinued following an unpleasant scene with the First Ladies favorite panties and some caraway seeds . . .

2. What happens if you put the "This side up" side face down while popping microwave popcorn? Also what is the difference between regular popcorn and microwave popcorn?
Had to try this and see. Damndest thing: it seems the "bottom" side of the bag is immovable. The popcorn blew right through the bottom of the microwave. There was popcorn all over the floor. Luckily, I'm not a picky eater so the cats and I had it cleaned up in minutes flat . . . The "difference" is that regular popcorn only pops with MacROwaves and unless you have a Macrowave Oven about, you'd go very hungry. . . (though we could eat the cats!)

3. If you have a metal plate in your head, would it rust? Why or why not? And if you said that it would rust, would the rust be a problem?
I do have a plate and yes: it does rust. I'm pretty sure it's the high alcohol content in my blood. The good news is, the rust is leeching through my scalp and no one thinks I'm bald anymore! I tell them I'm a redhead with really short hair...

4. Who came up with the shape of pretzels? How did they do so?
It's a little known fact that pretzels were invented by the Irish (no, really!) It was actually Dannan Mcnulty, King O' Leprauchans who made the first one. He was trying to create a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and reasoned that since bread floats, it would work nicely for his vertically challenged people. He formed the shape by wrapping raw dough around his upper thighs (The idea being he could then sit upright in the water and kick with his legs to move. This way he could look ducks straight in the eye since -as we all know- ducks are very pretentious fowl who look down on anyone who cant swim while keeping their head upright!) He cooked the dough so it would be solid and voila! The first pretzel. Unfortunately it sucked as a PFD (who woulda guessed it dissolved in water?) and King Dannan sank to the bottom of the lake, where he was promptly swallowed by a particularly cranky Rainbow Fish.

5. If not me then who? If not now then when? While were at it ... if I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?
If not you, then me. If not now, then never. If you're not for yourself: you're screwed. And lastly: if you are only for yourself, then you are obviously a politician!


A Brilliant Idiot

Somedays I don't know if I'm a moron or a genius. I've been going crazy over the length of "Clans" and it just occured to me that (With a little cleanup) I could end the novel right where I am if I turn it into a multi-book series. I'd always planned that but I was sure I had to reach a certain point in the story before I ended the first book. I can take that and use it for the opening of the second. Ah, the things we overlook in our quest for brilliance! Not sure I'm going to do that yet, but I'll be thinking on it heavily.

So, my son sprained his hand yesterday at school. Gotta give the boy credit: he did it in 4th period gym -playing basketball- and didn't say anything until 7th period, when it was too swollen for him to write and the pain was getting worse. Tough kid. Not real bright, maybe - but tough! The school nurse thought he might have some broken fingers, but the doctor said just sprained.

Had a great Boy Scouts meeting last night. The S.C.A. (Society for Creative Anachronisms) came in to do a demo for the boys and they LOVED it! If you've never seen these loons, they dress up in full armor and beat the crap out of each other with padded weapons. It's pretty neat to watch. The folks who came in were really nice; they let the boys try on the armor and showed them about using the different weapons, etc., then proceeded to beat the hell out of each other for their entertainment. Much fun for all!

Watched "The Amazing Race" after I got home (the wife was kind enough to tape it for me!) and laughed my ass off watching Rob & Amber from "Survivor". Rob was cheating, lying, and bribing everyone he could talk to. It was brilliant! I like that show; it's pretty neat watching couples go into a meltdown because they can't read a map! As I've said before: I like Reality TV (some of it anyway) I watch "Amazing Race", "Survivor", "American Chopper", "The Apprentice", and "The Contender". The only other shows I really watch are "West Wing", "Battlestar Galactica"(VERY cool show!) and "Monk". I like shows where I can't guess what's coming next. My wife hates watching TV with me; I can usually tell her the entire plot of most shows, including who the bad guy is, in the first 90 seconds. Comes from being a writer I think. I spend so much time plotting and foreshadowing it's hard to miss where others are going, unless it's really well done. That's why I like "Monk": the writers are very clever and careful with their clues, though I do usually manage to unravel the mystery before Monk does. The show's also quite funny, with a good touch of drama. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend.

Anyway, that's enough of my TV review for now...


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Contender

Sorry there was no post yesterday; the entire day was friggin' nuts! Work was non-stop phone calls and fixing problems and the wife, son, and I ran out the door ten seconds after I got home. It was a "shopping" night - one of those lovely evenings where my wife needs to return "one or two things" at various stores. We invariably wind up spending 3-4 hours running all over the place, return three things, and buy a dozen more. God, I hate shopping!!!! My wife adores it; she can happily spend an entire day doing nothing but browsing from store to store -not even buying anything! (which is good for my wallet but bad for the migraine I get after the first 10 minutes!) I'd rather have someone use a hole-punch on my eyelids than spend that long in a mall.

I did manage to squeeze in 1,900 words on "Clans" yesterday. My characters introduced me to a new set of bad guys I didn't even know existed and the character who was supposed to be the grand love interest for my MC decided she wanted a better role as an Antagonist. (She was so pushy about it, I had no choice but to give her the job!)Should be interesting; I can see lots of fun coming when the good/bad-guy/girl are in love with each other. I'm worried about the length of the book though, I'm fast on the heels of 170k (which puts me out of 1st novel acceptance range already) and I'm not even close to done. This one may have to wait till after I've published something shorter. Luckily, the novel I'm editing should fall out about 90-95k after editing, which puts me right in range.

Took the time to watch the premier of "The Contender" last night (Yea, I know I shoulda been writing, but I've been waiting to see this show!) I was impressed with it. I like the fact that these are not men who are going to whine about how rude or unprofessional the other people on the show are; they are not going to cry because someone called them a name, nor are they likely to dress in clown suits or eat pig bladders. These are professional fighters: men who will win or lose based on how much of a beating they can take/deliver in the ring. I watched the match last night and at the end, when the loser had his exit interview and was on the verge of tears I actually felt for him. This was a man with nothing, going back to nothing, after giving his all in a vicious fight. He lost. He's gone. I don't think there are any lucrative job offers in his future, his family is still in the same spot they were before he took his beating. That's real drama.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Busy Weekend

Long weekend of running about. Got next to nothing done writing wise, but as I mentioned, I did two days of training for the Boy Scouts. It was long, but I learned a lot. Next weekend will be very cool: I'm heading out camping as part of an adult patrol. We'll live, act, and train to do the work just as the boys do. It will be a very different experience and I'm looking forward to it.

Have become part of a small -but very active- Crit group over on Forward Motion. Working with two women who provide the best Crits I've ever had. Hope I can do the same for them. I definitely have to go ahead with the outline for the class, I have ten or so folks interested after only two days so I imagine that's a good enough start point. I'm excited about that too. I do corporate training and I used to teach Tae Kwon Do so I'm used to teaching but I've never had the opportunity to teach anything writing related before.

Oh well, it's late (actually, it's not: just feels that way!) and I'm tired. Gonna hit the hay.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Working With Scouts

No writing today other than answering some Crits the nice folks over at Forward Motion left on my WIP. I only had a quick minute to stop in, but it looks like half a dozen or so folks are interested in the class I offered to do so I'll be putting together an outline over the next few days to ship off to Zette (the site admin) and see if it's a go.

I spent half the day today (and all of tomorrow) at a training seminar on being a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts. I have to tell ya: these are some nice folks! if you want to feel good about the human race, get involved in Scouting and meet the folks who give up a good portion of their own free time to help these kids and the community. I have to say I enjoy it much more than I ever thought I would. I've always been one of those folks who wanted to help out, but never really knew how. I was never much of a "volunteering" type, I kinda got dragged into Scouts because of my son (my wife is very protective and he was not camping all over the world without me along!) I'm really glad they did it though, I love it!

I'm hoping to get some Editing on GS in tonight, but I'm about to head out to dinner with the family and that can easily stretch into hours (which is a good thing!), so who knows? Gotta run. . .


Friday, March 04, 2005

TV and Insanity

2K words on "Clans" today. Gotta say, I'm loving the way this thing is moving! Did some more Crit work over on Forward Motion; meeting some nice people over there. I also voulunteered to run one of their writing classes (what the hell was I thinking?) on martial arts: fantasy vs. reality. Believe it or not I have black belts in two different styles (though it's been quite a few years since my fat butt did any real training!) and they were asking for folks with experience in things outside of writing, so . . .

So, I watched "Survivor" and "The Apprentice" last night (yes, I admit it: I'm a Reality TV geek!) I love the girl in "Survivor" with all the tattoos. She started as the outsider nobody wanted on their team and she's been kicking serious butt -even on the guys- ever since. I love that! I have a soft spot for outsiders and underdogs. . .

On the other hand, the girl who got fired on "The Apprentice" was a witch and deserved to be tossed. I thought my wife was going to put her foor through the TV when this girl started whining how hard her life was growing up because she was -get this: "Too beautiful!" she cried that she wanted to take a razor to her face because everyone hated her for being so pretty. Um . . . ok. I can really feel the trauma, I mean: beautiful, popular, and well endowed . . . how did she ever survive?

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Good Day and Some Ranting!

Having a good day today!

I cranked out another 3,000 words during lunch, which brings my total to 162,633 for "Clans"! (Yay for me!!) Also managed to sneak in a Crit over on the Forward Motion boards and I did a solid twenty pages of editing on GS last night. Good bit of writing for the last 24 hours.

Watching TV last night and my poor wife had to listen to me go crazy over a story that made network news out of my old High School. There was a kid who caught his teacher on his video phone, yelling at the students to stand during the playing of the national anthem. Now I have to tell you, that I have no problem with this at all. It's not gong to hurt these kids to stand up for a few minutes to show a bit of respect for the nation they live in.

In general, I'm pretty liberal -I don't even have a problem with flag burning- but I realy get worked up when I see parents on TV threatening to sue because their children have been "traumatized" by the cruelty of the teacher. What a crock! The worst thing this teacher did was pull a chair out from under one lazy SOB's ass and make him stand up. Here's an idea: how about these parent's teach their kids a bit of respect for their teachers? If I had ever refused to do what I was told by a teacher and my parents saw a video of it: my old man would've kicked my ass to the moon and back, then draged me by my left testicle to the school to apologize to the teacher for being a smart ass!

When did the U.S. become a nation which teaches our children to accept no responsibility for our own actions? How did we go from being the independent cowboy to being the whiny brats who are going to sue the world because someone hurt our feelings? My God, people! have some self respect and behave like you're an adult! Yea, I know the H.S. kids are just being kids - and I'm not pissed at them. The parents are the ones who get under my skin. Stop looking for a pay day and raise your kids correctly.

While I'm ranting, Let me toss another story that went up my butt last night. NBC Nightly News did a story on rural Law Enforcement and how overworked they are because their communities are growing too rapidly and there aren't enough police to cover the needs. They highlighted a district in Colorado where one officer was required to cover some 1,800 square miles of territory (an area bigger than Rhode Island!). Now, that's a big concern and I support whatever measures need to be taken to correct it. The thing that had me screaming at the TV (yea, I do actually do that a lot) was that they were interviewing the local people who were demanding federal aid for this. The man sat their with a dead serious face and said: (paraphrasing) "There's no money in our budget for more police and the locals keep voting down tax increases, so we have to turn to the federal government."

Are you friggin' kidding me? Up the damn taxes! If the people who need the protection refuse to pay for it, too damn bad, live without it. Federal money comes from my taxes (of which I pay quite a bit to be sure I have enough police in MY community, thank you!) We've become completely greedy and short-sighted as a nation. We want everything under the sun, but we refuse to pay for it. I pay some serious taxes here in Jersey, but I don't really care because I can see them at work in my roads, schools, services, etc. if these people need more police, loosen up on the purse strings a bit, folks! The kicker to this whiole story was that the P.D. is being sued by an irate local because it took them over an hour to get to his wife after she was attacked by a pit bull, and the woman died. Now, I am very sorry for the man's loss, but I would not be a bit surprised to find that he was one of the folks yelling: "You're not raising my damn taxes!" before his wife's accident.

Come on folks, let's get back to a little personal responsibility and some common sense!

Ok, done ranting now! Thanks for listening in.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Writing Weirdness

Writing is full of little oddities. For example, I've been struggling for the last few days with "Clans" to get any decent amount of work done, but the words just would not come. I was supposed to be starting a really big scene with my MC -a scene I've been looking forward to writing for a long time now- but it just wasn't happening. finally, I decided to jump to a small side scene that I hadn't planned on or outlined, and BAM! The words started flowing and I wound up with a plot twist I never considered before. Over 2,600 words on my lunch hour. Weird, huh?

I really need to stop fighting the characters and start listening when they tell me I'm going wrong. (It's their story after all!)I tend to panic when I can't get the words moving, thinking I'm just out of steam and I try to push through it. Maybe that's the wrong approach; maybe letting the characters have free reign is the only answer. I'm thinking it's not lack of steam that gets me, but just being on the wrong path. Free-forming it for a while and following where the dialog leads seems like it always works. I've done that several times on this novel, but I still panic and try to force things each time it happens. Ah well, who knows? Maybe writing it here will make me stop and think about going around the wall instead of through it, eh? (not holding my breath though!)

Back for a full day in the office today (finally!) and getting a lot done. I do a lot of writing in my day job as well: I do software and design training so I'm constantly writing up outlines, instructionals, etc. Strangely, I find it easier to write my fiction on days when I've written a lot of technical stuff. You'd think it would be the opposite, wouldn't ya? Maybe my brain needs to get out some good old fashioned imaginings before I turn into another brain-dead, zombie, technocrat with a pocket protector and horn rimmed glasses. Whatever the reason, it seems the more I do at work, the more I do with my writing. Don't know why that is, but I'll take it any day!


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Working From Home

Working at home today because of the snow (we got about 8" here)and I have to say, it's a little disappointing from the writing side of things. First off, I always feel like I have to do more when I'm not actually in the office, so my boss doesn't think I was hanging on the couch, eating ice cream, and watching Jerry Springer reruns while collecting a paycheck. (That'd be nice though, wouldn't it?) Anyway, I always push a bit harder when I'm home, so I don't get much writing done. On top of that, I had the kid home today, which is always fun, but it means the few breaks I get from working are spent with him playing and/or fixing meals. There's also the thrown in pressure that since I'm home, the wife will expect laundry done, house cleaned, and dinner cooked when she gets in tonight. (Why she expects that, I don't know - it's been 15 years, she should know better by now!) Right after she gets in, I have to run for back to back meetings tonight for the Boy Scouts. I'm Assistant Scoutmaster for my son's troop. It's a lot of fun (no, I'm NOT kidding, it really is!) but it takes a lot of my time, which the spouse does not appreciate one bit. Between work, scouts, writing, and life in general she feels slighted and put upon from time to time. Can't say as I blame her.

Only managed to squeak in 500 words today (pathetic!) but I'm hoping to get an hour or so in tonight after the meetings so, we shall see...