Thursday, June 30, 2005

Synopsis part Deux


More completely crazy days! Writing anything at all has been damn near impossible. After all the traveling for work (over a thousand miles of driving this week: thank you very much!) fighting with the idiots at the pool supply store (who refused to give me a new pump, since my warranty only called for repairs . . . until they realized they didn't know how to fix my model and decided it was easier to give me a new one rather than have to actually read the instructions!) and a pleasepullthetriggerandblowthetopofmyheadoffnow migraine that knocked me out of commision last night I have done damn all writing.

Well, at least I had some time tonight to work on the synopsis for GS. I completed the second draft and I'm (sort of) happy with it. I'm a little worried actually. I've read in several places that you should write the synopsis in the same tone as the novel, but the book is very flippant and has a dark sense of humor. I wrote the synopsis that way (slightly toned down) but I'm afraid it sounds unprofessional. I did manage to keep the synopsis to 2-1/2 pgs. though, which I'm happy about. I want to go through it one more time before I send it out. I really want this to work well, ya know? Godslayer is a book I'm really proud of. It has a lot of humor and I think it has a solid romance (of the Tracey-Hepburn style, if your old enough to catch the reference) it has a solid fantasy-adventure tale and it touches on some very serious subjects like religion, duty, honor, and truth. I really think it's marketable and (to be immodest) I really like the writing. The whole thing just flows. Of everything I've written I think it reads the best: simple, direct, fast, and entertaining. Now I'm boiling that 80k of brilliance down into two or so pages and I have to hook someone to read all that great stuff based solely on this minimal description.

Oy vey!

Can you tell I'm scared shitless over sending out these queries? (Nah, I didn't think you could . . .)

Well, it's late in these parts and I want to read through some stuff before I turn in for the night. I'll talk to ya' tomorrow . . .


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Back At It!

Howdy all,

I'm back from vacation & finally have a free moment to post. Yesterday was (of course) that dreaded day of the week wherein all evil things occur so I did not have a free moment until after midnight had come and the week had moved on to a more reasonable day.

The vacation was good, though not nearly as restful as I'd hoped. We did much running from place to place with a tight itinerary to make sure we saw & did everything there was to see and do! I hate that. Oh, it was fun - don't get me wrong: it's just that the wife and I have different ideas of what the word "vacation" means. To her it's a time to force fit as much "family fun" as you possibly can into an eighteen hour day of madness. To me, it means sleeping late, having a leisurely brunch, doing one or two slow paced relaxing things then finishing up with a nice dinner and a casual walk before hitting the hay early. Repeat until real life intrudes and you must return to work.

The driving was an adventure. Despite our well established routine, the wife decided that I had to do the driving because she is uncomfortable with Interstates, trucks, and long distance driving at high speed. Yay. I drove eight hours straight, with her constantly jumping every time a truck got within 300 yards of the car, telling me to slow down, and -as always- slamming her foot onto imaginary brakes when she felt I was getting too close to the cars in front. The sad part is: that was a pleasure compared to the drive home! Actually, the first 1/2 of the ride back was great, a very friendly Virginian who used to live up here in Jersey gave me an alternate route to take that was wonderful. No trucks, no traffic . . . just two lane roads with 55 mph speed limits that I could drive on for hours without touching my brakes (or the wife hitting hers!). It only took me 4 hours to reach the Jersey border from central Virginia! Of course, it then took me 5-1/2 hours to travel the last 70 miles home. (Gotta love New-frikkin'-Jersey, folks!)

So, in the midst of all this driving my plans to work on the synopsis for GS (or anything else!) were shot to hell. Then yesterday was . . . well, MONDAY! Over 100 e-mails waiting at work, seventeen voice mails, a new trainee and a few assorted emergencies. After that I headed home to a doctor's appointment, followed by a trip to the pool store because the motor on my pump filter died, followed by a quick dinner, followed by being out in the yard at 10:30 at night trying to disconnect the broken pump from the pool because it has to go into the shop for two weeks (while my pool becomes the great green water pit of viral death and disease!) after which I managed to get on the home computer and go through the one-hundred-fourty-three messages that were waiting for me. Luckily, all but ten or so were spam & I dumped them quickly. By that time it was Tuesday and I was able to go to bed & get at least some rest. Oy.

Good news: I did recieve the ARC copy of "Talyn" from Holly Lisle while I was away. I opened it late Sunday night & found that Holly had written a wonderful note in the front encouraging my writing and telling me to keep following the dream. It was really thoughtful and a great boost to know someone who does this professionally thinks you have a real chance. Thanks, Holly!

I'm traveling at work today and tonight is Boy Scouts so the writing time will be sparse but I hope to at least get some stuff done. The rest of the week should (I hope!) go easier and I can get back into the daily swing. I haven't written in five days now & I'm getting antsy! Gotta get back to it!


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bad Poetry

Just a few more hours till my tired, old, ass is off for a much needed vacation! I am sooooooo looking forward to the break. No work, no writing, no yard or house work: just fun time with the family. Very cool!

Last night was Boy Scout night so I didn't get anything done writing wise. I am planning to take the GS synopsis with me for the trip (which belies my earlier statement about no writing, but just a little!) I'll work on it as the wife drives. It's a six hour trip after all, I should be able to knock it out before we get there. (I hope!) I always let the wife drive when we're doing any traveling together. She's a bit of a control freak and if I drive all we do is argue while she puts her foot on imaginary brakes on the passenger side of the car and tells me when I should be switching lanes, etc. After 15 years, I've figured out it's easier to just let her drive. (I'm a quick study, huh?) Besides, it gives me a chance to read, write, or even just catch a nap and there are no arguments.

I have nothing to really post about today (the mind is ALL on the vacation!) so I thought I would post another of my poems for your reading enjoyment (or pain: not sure which!) As I've said in the past, poetry is not really my form: I just do it for fun. I have a tendency to stray into doggerel and almost always use solid rhyme and meter so it's not exactly cutting edge work here, but it makes me happy to write it once in a while, so I do! The one below is something I wrote in a card for the wife on our 15th anniversary (who needs friggin' Hallmark?) Enjoy, and I'll be back for posting next Monday.



And they lived happily ever after
At least, so the story said.
It made no mention of diseases
Or of nights in hospital bed
The story never told of things
Like chicken pox and cancer
It told a tale of wedding rings
With true love as the answer

In the story: Prince and Princess
With waving hair a-flowin’
Instead we both went bald
And our asses kept a-growin’
The story told of wonder
And of joys that never end
But true life’s filled with thunder
And surprises round each bend
Romance fills each day
In that foolish lover’s tale
We work, and cry, and pay
And take out the garbage pail
The story claimed each night
Would be awash in lover’s thrills
We bitch, and bicker, and fight
About taking vitamin pills

It took fifteen years to see the fable
A decade and a half to see
The smiling eyes across the table
Still belong to you and me
I guess it took us a while to learn
Life is not what we both dreamed
All our joys and peace we earn
Bad times were better than they seemed

And now I like to think, at last
We’ve laid that story down to rest
Only ghosts remain of dark roads past
And sad shadows fade in the West
So you and I will stand together
Though life may toss us to and fro
There’s many a storm for us to weather
With fifteen down, and a life to go

by JA Coppinger, 2005
All Rights Reserved, etc., etc. . . .

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Brain Farts & Brothers

Okay, to start with today: I need to recant a little of the spouting I did about the wife yesterday. We talked last night and it turns out that some of what happened on Father's day was actually my fault. (Yea, I know: you could have knocked me over with a feather too!) Seems I actually did the chick thing (no, I am not PC and you should know that by now!) and told her it was okay to do all those things on my day when what I really meant was: "Are you frikkin' kidding me? I bust my ass for this family all year: you damn well better plan some special day for me!" Don't know what happened there. That is definitely not my style. I am usually as direct as they come (big shock, huh?) and I have no time in my life for that politeness bullshit. Must have been a brain fart or something.

Anyway, on to the writing: I finally got back onto "Fish" at lunch today. Did another two thousand words without much sweat. I'm still not onto the final chapter, this was an insert of a dream sequence into the chapter I had just finished. Yea, I know dream sequences are cheesy but they work in this instance. The MC has been having quasi-prophetic dreams throughout the book so it fits. I think this is what I needed. It sets up the last chapter with a touch of foreshadowing and the MC's misunderstanding of what the dream is telling him so when he hits the big twist ending he'll be completely caught off guard. (Least, I hope it reads that way!)

Did some more work on the synopsis last night, but only a little. Was out running with last minute errands all evening so I only got through the first page of re-writes. (So far the damn thing is three pages long. I'd hoped to keep it to one but that ain't happenin'!) And I do mean: Re-write! I have had to scrap everything from the first draft entirely.

So, I had a chance to talk to my brother Mick, this weekend at the graduation party. Don't know if I've mentioned it before but he's another "wannabe". He's older than I am and is -no doubt- one of the reasons why I am pursuing this twisted career path. He was the one gave me my first copies of "Lord of the Rings" and "Dune". Mick is a fantastic writer. He does mainstream and "literary" stuff where I stick to my SF& F but I love his work. He has a way of conveying deep emotion and shades of meaning that I truly envy. Me, I think I'm better with characters and a solid touch of humor (well, at least I think it's funny!) Anyway, I had sent him the first two chapters of "Fish" nearly a year ago to look at but I never heard back from him and forgot all about it. Turns out, his system crashed and he changed ISP's so he lost the e-mail without having a chance to ever read it. Last week, he was cleaning out his e-mail box at work and noticed a message he'd forwarded to himself a good while back and voila: it was my chapters. He'd sent them to work and never had a chance to open it. He read the chapters and was really impressed with them. We had a good long talk about writing at the party. We discussed the process, craft, and getting published. He was surprised by how much writing I've done this year. It was a nice change to talk with someone who truly understands the insanity of writing. Other than folks online, I don't know anyone else beside Mick who writes. it was good talking to him.

I'm headed off for vacation tomorrow afternoon. I hope to get one more post up before I go, but I figured I'd mention it just in case. (I wouldn't want y'all worrying about little ol' me!) We're splitting at noon for a four day break from the insanity of work and daily life. Beleieve me, it is MUCH needed by all of us! Even the boy has had a rough few months. A little R & R is in order.

Ah well, it's time to get back to work.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday has Pissed on my Parade

I should know by now: life never lets you be happy for more than a few moments at a time and the amount of shit it dumps on you is proportional to the amount of happiness you've had. This can be written as a simple equation:

AOH = 2(AOS)

Wherein you receive twice the amount of shit as happiness.

I was very happy on Friday when I finished GS but that was quickly squashed by my weekend. The insanity was . . . well, insane! I drove countless miles, talked to dozens of people whose name I didn't remember and generally played the good husband all weekend for my wife's family. Along comes Father's Day (which I spent with the wife's family because they scheduled a three year old's birthday party for this day!) and after being the kind and gracious hubby: even to the point of going to this party on what's supposed to be my day without a word of complaint:

Do I get an expensive gift? Nope (She stopped at the store to buy birthday gifts for the niece)
Do I get a cheap gift? Nope. (She stopped at another store to buy "thank you" gifts for the boy's teachers.)
Do I get a card? Nope. (She stopped at the card store for the niece)
Do I get a "Happy Father's Day"? Nope. (She sang the hell outta that "Happy Birthday" though!)

Nothing. Not one damn thing from my wife. Now, her Father got a gift (which I bought for him!) and she wished her brother, brother-in-law and every other male she saw over the weekend "Happy Father's Day" (whether they had children or not!) but does the love of my life think to pass such a simple phrase on to the man who fathered her only child? She does not. Now, I will be very honest and tell you this hurt me quite a bit. There were several ways to handle this situation (most of them bad!) but I opted for what I thought was the correct one: I went to the wife after the day was done and told her (very politely!) that I was hurt by the oversight and that I didn't think it unreasonable to expect at least an acknowledgement of the day from my wife. This of course ended with her being furious with me and screaming why it was all my own damn fault as I went to bed shaking my head.

AOH = 2(AOS)

Well, that's enough venting. The good thing was: the boy remembered me. He made a home made card for me (since mom never bothered to take him shopping) with a killer poem on it. It was really funny and very sweet all at once. He also gave me a big hug (a rarety from an 11 year old!) and wished me "Happy Father's Day" several times throughout the day. So, I guess I'm not a complete failure as a father.

On to the writing: I finished the synopsis but it still sucks. I'm rewriting it, this time trying to keep it in a voice similar to the novel itself. The first run through was too bland. It read like a list of ingredients, ya' know? I need to make it more interesting without increasing the length or losing the key points of the story. This damn thing is proving to be harder than writing the damn novel!

I planned to do some work on "Fish" today but Monday has come to piss all over my writing parade! I had 30+ e-mails, 9 phone messages, and had been hauled into two "emergency" meetings by 8:30 a.m. Then the fun really started! Lunch was killed (and my writing with it!) by a last minute seminar re-schedule that I wasn't supposed to handle until next week. (no biggie, only 1/2 the Board of Directors for the firm were there!) and I have to now re-build my entire schedule for the rest of the year to add additional training days. This should be fun. It means I will be on the road at least four (usually five) days out of the week. Fun-fun-fun!!!

I hate Mondays (whimper!)

Not to fear Loyal Reader: I shall not allow the cretins of upper management to waylay my endeavors in the mysterious realms of publishing!

Okay, time to go now: I'm getting punchy. My final thought for the day(courtesy of M*A*S*H):

"May the fleas of a thousand dead camels infest the armpits of all Mondays!"


Friday, June 17, 2005

Done Done Done Done and DONE!!!

Oh Yea!!!

Godslayer is DONE, baby!

I pushed through until the wee hours last night and knocked out the last of the type-in. GS is now "officially" done (coming in at a nice, round, 80,000 words, thank you very much!) and I am once again doing the happy-snoopy-dance-of-joy! (A sight you should be grateful you can not see!) I am thrilled (can you tell?) and I have to say it was the easiest edit I've ever done thanks to Holly Lisle's "One Pass Revisions". I know I've talked it up on here many times before, but I'm tellin' ya: if you haven't stopped in to read it over, do so now! It works - I actually got through it in a single pass and following her guidelines helped me organize it and make it a much better book than it was when I started editing. I was able to isolate and clean up glaring logic mistakes and dump a whole load of unnecessary crap that slowed it down. And best of all: the whole process was fairly painless. Thanks Holly!

Now I move on to the synopsis re-write. (That's tonight's task!) and then start fresh on Monday with the ending of "Fish". I've decided to just start typing and see where the story takes me. I know what the final scene will be but I don't know how to get there, so I'll let the characters decide. That always seems to work better for me anyway. Don't know why I keep screwing up the process with my conscious mind! After that, I'll start write-in on "Clans" and begin first draft on the next novel. Keeping busy while I send out the agent queries, etc. will help keep me from panicking I think. Otherwise, I'll be sitting around the house (eating potato chips by the bag! Oh, how I love that accursed treat!) and snapping at anyone who dares speak to me. It's not a pretty thing when I'm in my "insecure writer" mode.

The weekend is already shot for writing: Family reunion, followed by a graduation, followed by a birthday party, followed by lawn maintenance, followed by my fat-ass passing out on the nearest soft surface!!! It's cool though; I have a lot of driving to do between each event so it'll give me lot of time to think about what to work on next.

Have I mentioned I'm happy right now?

For a little while at least (until the rejections start coming in!) I can feel like a real writer, not just a wannabe. It's a really good feeling. Now all I gotta do is keep writing (and praying!) and maybe I'll get to keep that feeling for more than a few weeks. Good weekend to all!


Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Synopsis of my Synopsis

I spent nearly four hours at home last night working on the computer. Sadly, only about an hour of it was for writing purposes. I got caught up in doing some paperwork for Scouts as well as researching refinancing options on the home. Prices in my area are going through the roof and I currently have an ARM (don't ask: I was stupid and desperate when I took it!) that is set to jump up 3% next month so it's time to lock in a fixed rate.

I did manage to do a full chapter of GS and I'm a little worried right now. I'm down to the final two (longish) chapters & an epilogue but I did no additional write-in for either of those. It was just line editing and while I was happy with it when I was editing, now I'm nervous there's not enough there. I'll see as I go - I may just be nervous because I've reached the end of my write-in notebook. I also took a few moments to try and do some more work on the synopsis. I opened it, read through what I already had . . . and closed the document with a whimper. Oh my Lord, does it suck! I don't know what kind of mind altering chemicals I was on when I wrote that but please God - don't ever let me take them again! The whole damn thing has to be completely scrapped and started again. (How frikkin' depressing is that?) The query letter itself is okay (I shamelessly stole from various writer sites for it) but the synopsis is dog crap.

Tomorrow I'm off to are most distant office which -while tedious- comes with the benefit of me never having to come into HQ for the day! (That's always a good thing!) I can slide up there first thing in the a.m, do my training, and hopefully be out and home before the worst of the evening traffic hits the Garden State Parking Lot. (That's "Parkway" to you non-Jersey folk.)

The boy is down to 1/2 days at school. He only has three days left and he is one happy camper. He is so looking forward to the summer. Damn, I miss summers! I would kill to have two+ months of no deadlines, meeting, phone calls, arguments, or any of the general stupidity that breeds so readily in the office environment. I want to sleep till 11:00, eat PB&J for breakfast, go swim in the pool for a few hours and walk about in bare feet all day! Piss on this whole "adulthood" thing! I wanna summer vacation!!!!!!

Okay, back now.

Okay, so it's late in the day & I need to grab a few things from HQ for the trip tomorrow so I'm bugging outta here. I'll catch you folks, tomorrow . . .


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Books & The Boss

For starters today: the Father-in-law is doing fine. He had major blockage of all the major valves in his heart but they were able to clear a good portion of it with the balloon and the rest they think they can take care of with aggressive medication. The lung disease thing is still outstanding but they want the heart stabilized before they start more exploratories, etc. All good thoughts, prayers (and of course: large cash donations) are appreciated.

Much traveling at work this week, I just got back from teaching a three hour CAD seminar 100 miles away and am killing the last 1/2 hour at work by writing this blog. Tomorrow I hit a different office, and yet a different one (2+ hour drive) on Friday. That will be rough. Moving along the Jersey Shore on a Friday during the summer is nothing short of insanity (with a little masochism mixed in for balance!)

No writing last night (though I did get home in time to watch the seaon finale of "The Shield". I love that show!) Yes, I know I should have been writing instead but I couldn't help myself. Some shows just grab you by the . . . um, well they're real good, okay? Tonight should be much better. I hope to get a massive chunk of GS typed in and try to finish up the synopsis. Still struggling with the ideas behind the "Fish" ending. No luck so far on a resolution. Only thing I've got is the feeling I'm missing something important in the story, but I don't know what it is yet.

I'm starting to think about what to move on to next. GS is almost ready for submittal and "Fish" is nearly complete so I have to line up the next piece to begin working on. I still have "Clans" to edit (which will be a huge undertaking) and I have a choice of three novels to start on next. Two are traditional S&S fantasy novels and the third is a far future SF. Come to think of it, there is actually a fourth novel hovering out there which is a contemporary dark fantasy along the lines of "Fish". They're all started to varying degrees, with a reasonable amount of background so I can take whichever one I want. Usually, I just read through what I have on each and jump onto the one that catches my imagination the most. That's as good a way to pick as any, right? (Hey, it works for me!)

As a complete aside: I've been listening to Springsteen's "Born to Run" album all day (yea, I know it's a CD but I'm old enought to say "album" if I damn well feel like it!) Thirty years later and that album still kicks ass! I am a Jersey boy, born and bred (with a few year detour in Colorado) and I freely admit that Bruce is the epitomy of music to my ears. Now, I love Bach, Beethoven, Cole Porter, Louis Prima, Glenn Miller, The Beatles, The Who, Aerosmith, G&R, U2 and Kid Rock but nothing ever gets me pumped like Bruce. There is something visceral and intense about the music and his lyrics are breathtaking. If you want to know what I mean, put on "Jungleland" and turn your stereo to max volume, then sit back and be carried away. That's what music is meant to be! (BTW: did you know that song is where Stephen King got his title for "The Stand"? Just a bit of useless trivia to carry you through the day.)


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Seems the powers that be have determined my life is not yet stressful enough. Just for chuckles, they have thrown in some serious family illness.

My father-in-law is in the hospital today. He has to have an Angiogram to see why his heart is beating at over 200 beats/minute. While doing that, the Doc's will be checking his lungs as well because they're pretty sure he has lung disease of some kind. Fun, huh? Just to make it interesting, his cardilogist has had him on blood thinners to slow the heart rate but forgot to tell him that he had to stop taking them last week so they could do the procedure today. (All those years of medical school and they never taught him to use a phone?) Anyway, they pumped my F-I-L full with 4 pints of frozen plasma to thicken his blood up again. The poor guy's been sitting in the hospital for over nine hours now, waiting for a "simple" procedure that was supposed to take less than an hour and they still haven't told him when he'll be going in. The wife (as you can well imagine) is going bat-shit! She just called me at work and she's ready to start tossing medical practitioners from the hospital roof if someone doesn't resolve this quickly. Man, I really hate when she does that. It's such a pain bailing her out of prison for Doctor-cide . . .

Got a sizeable bit of GS done last night. (the wife was running about like a mad woman, cleaning house to keep her mind off her dad's procedure today so she didn't hassle me) I'm having a rough time getting back into "Fish". I'm down to the final, climactic, scene where the two heroes come face to face with their childhood nightmare as adults and one of them dies. It's the last scene of the book and I can't seem to get it started. Something about it is not clicking for me. Maybe I need to step back and figure out why, huh? Either that, or just stop screwing around and get the damn thing down on paper. I'm not sure which is the right thing to do, so I'm in limbo on it for the moment.

Tuesday is Scouts night. I never get any writing done on Tuesday. Tonight will be especially busy because we have an Eagle Scout BOR and I'm setting everything up for this years Summer Camp at the end of July. Much paperwork and logistical type stuff to be done! On top of that, I'll have to do all the dinner/dishes/housework stuff because the wife is likely to still be at the hospital till late tonight. So, another peaceful evening in the Coppinger household!

That's it for now. I'm off to see how far behind I've fallen over in my Crit Circle and hopefully catch up on my backlog. You know, I am finding that this whole "work" concept is interfering with my writing life. That just has to stop! (I wish!)


Monday, June 13, 2005

Monday Sucks Again

Mondays are a large, festering, pimple on the unwashed, hairy, ass of humanity. They should be excised with intense agony by an alcoholic surgeon who has the shakes and a tendency toward sadism.

Other than that, I'm just fine . . . how about you?

The weekend damn near killed me, folks. The Relay for Life was a great event (and actually a lot of fun!) but I walked over twelve miles (yea, that's right twelve-frikkin-miles!) and didn't sleep for over 38 hours. This is NOT the type of activity for overwight, out of shape, bald dudes to involve themeselves with! (Not sure how the bald thing matters, but it sounds funny . . .) We helped raise awareness of the need for more cancer research as well as much money. The event brought in well over $160,000 and our team brought in almost $4,000 in pledges. It was worth the exhaustion (and blisters!) that ensued. So of course,I had no possible way of taking off work today to catch up on much needed sleep. Monday returned with a vengeance to kick me square in the family jewels and laugh as I curled up in the fetal position on the floor. (Refer to sentence one, above.)

No writing this weekend at all (Hey, don't get all testy with me! No sleep = no writing . . . them's da rules.) but I did get some more work done late Friday on GS. I'm down to the last 100 pages of the book now. I also started my Agent Query letter and Synopsis of GS. Scary stuff, but I'm doing it! I'll be posting the synposis for review by the AFC circle over of FM for the ladies to beat up on (if they'll still have me - I've been noticeably absent of late)

Okay, so what's on my mind today: Pretty Girls.

I am fascinated by pretty girls. (no, not the way you think! Well . . . okay, that way too but that's NOT the point I'm making here!) I saw a girl today, that most people would probably not consider pretty. Oh, she's not ugly or anything but most folks would give her a "Oh, she's cute, I guess." sort of response. Now, I have no idea why but it seems those are always the sort of girls I find the prettiest. I don't know this girl, didn't meet her, or even see her for more than a few moments, but something inside me immediately said: "Wow, look at her!" Now I know what you're thinking: killer body right? Nope. She was actually a little on the skinny side with nothing remarkable about her form. Small in the chest and straight hipped. So what made her seem so pretty to me?

Don't really know and that's why I've been thinking about it.

All I can really come up with is that she looked happy. Not the: "Gee, something good just happened" sort of happy, but the: "I know who I am and that's just fine by me." sort of happy. It was in her face, and her posture. In the way she moved, I guess. She wasn't showing off for anyone (like the conventionally pretty ones always seem to do) and she wasn't hiding anything or looking away from other folks. She was comfortable with who she was. That struck me as particularly lovely. I smiled at her and she smiled back without hesitation, then we went our separate ways. To go Gump-ish (in the Forrest sense) "Pretty is as pretty does". She was just being herself without apology and that struck me as the prettiest thing I've seen in a long time. Those are either words of wisdom, or complete bullshit I came up with by projecting my own imagination onto a stranger.

You get to decide which.


Friday, June 10, 2005

One Burnt Wienie

Have you ever done any barbecuing? (I'm talking the real thing now, not those lame gas grills!)

Ever dropped a hot dog down into the hot coals while you were cooking? Watched it turn black, split, crinkle and generally become a twisted charcoal covered mass of black and pink before you managed to drag the flacid, destroyed, chunk of pseudo-flesh out of the flames with your tongs?

Look closely at your mangled frankfurter: that's me right now.

I need some time off. I need to get away from work (which is still running me ragged!) and have a few days to just forget about responsibilities, deadlines, meetings, appointments and all the other crap that comes with a "grown-up" life. I need a few days to breath and remember that this is a very cool world and I have a reason for being in it (at least I hope I do!) beyond earning small slips of green paper that seem to disappear again as soon as I collect them!

I can't seem to catch a break though. Tomorrow the wife, boy, and I are participating in a 24 hour Walk-A-Thon for breast cancer research (the wife is a two-time survivor, so believe me when I tell you: I support this cause big time!) so no rest this weekend. We'll be walking in shifts with the entire team (mostly my wife's family and friends) from Saturday a.m. until Sunday. Next week, I am scheduled to teach five seminars, four new emplyees, and a load of other crap at work that has to be done, so it'll be extra hours every day. (Yay!) Next Saturday, we have a family reunion out in PA (about a 120 mile one-way trip) followed by my nephew's H.S. Graduation party the same night. Sunday is Father's Day (a day I've been counting on to take at least a small break!) but I found out as I walked out the door for work today that my youngest niece's birthday party is that day. I'm starting to sense a pattern here. Could it be a conspiracy? Is the wife running me into the ground so that she can collect the big life insurance payout? (I don't think so, but she has been feeding me a lot of pork chops and sausage lately. Hmmm . . .)

At least I've been good about keeping the writing going through all this. I added another 7,000 words to GS through type-in. I'm getting to it late at night (after 10:00 p.m.) because the boy has been on the computer each night working two reports for school. It's been rough -I'd much prefer to be in bed by 10:00- but what else to do? I refuse to let the writing die out this time! Something has to give though and I've been slacking on the exercise again (I hate that!) because I'm too tired to drag my chunky ass out of bed an hour early each morning before work. I haven't lost it completely, but I'm only doing one day out of four or so. Not very good, but better than nothing I guess.

Gonna try and get some more work done on "Fish" today. Not sure how that will go. As I've said before: it's an emotionally draining novel to write and my batteries are pretty much depleted at this point. Still, any words are better than no words, yes? Yes.

On a cheerier note, the boy brought home a copy of his school's literary magazine last night, in which he has a very well done poem. The boy is actually doing better than me in the publishing department! At this point I think he's had something like six or seven poems published in various school magazines and two national poetry compilations by students. For a boy of eleven, he's got a fantastic grasp of language and he really does some powerful imagery. Have I mentioned that he makes me proud?

Will I be posting this weekend? As usual: probably not. I do try (No, really: I do!) but home life on the weekends is usually running from one engagement to another, so I wouldn't count on it folks. (I know . . . you'll miss me, right? Hey! Stop laughing! That's very rude . . .)

In any event, have a happy Friday and a great weekend!


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Downing Street Memo

Alright, folks, I have to go political on you today.

I was reading last night about the "Downing Street Memo". I'd heard of it earlier but hadn't really taken the time to look into this horrific document. For those unfamiliar, this is a British Memo delivered to Tony Blair by one of his Chief Intelligence officers on July 23, 2002 - almost a full year before we began our military campaign in Iraq on March 20, 2003. The memo states that: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Re-read that: ". . . the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Holy Shit!

Look, I'll be the first to tell you I've always had mixed feeling about our invasion of Iraq. While I agree Hussein was a nutcase who should be killed I never liked the idea of using American soldiers to get the job done (though I always said it should have been done back during the Gulf War, and Pres. Bush Sr. screwed that up!) Being naturally suspicious of political leaders (I grew up in the Watergate era, after all!) I was never convinced that the reasons the White House gave about WMD's, etc. were sufficient to the response we launched. When the intelligence proved out as so much bullshit, I wasn't buying the President's excuse that he was "misled" by his people and that the war was a good thing anyway because we were bringing freedom to Iraq. Sorry, but I do not believe that freedom can be given to a people. It has to be earned -with their own blood- or they'll never value it enough to keep it.

The President may have lied to Congress and lied to the people of this nation to force us into a war he wanted for personal reasons. I won't go into what I think those reasons were (though if you look at the money he and his supporters are making off the inflated oil prices and things like the Halliburton contracts . . .) but the reasons don't matter. What matters is that the leader of this nation may have violated the law and embroiled us in a war that has cost the lives of 1,683 U.S. soldiers as of this writing. What matters is that no one has been able to debunk this memo, or it's contents, and the U.S. media, and government, ARE DOING NOTHING TO INVESTIGATE THE ISSUE!! Why the hell are the news and media outlets not jumping all over this story? Christ, when Bill Clinton was suspected of getting a hummer from an aide they were like sharks in blood filled water, but for something this serious? Not a friggin' word! There have only been two or three stories run on the memo as minor stories in the U.S. newspapers and I haven't heard a thing about it on broadcast news, not even CNN!

Why is this not being investigated? Why is congress not screaming over this? I'm frightened by the thought of just how much power this administration has if they are effectively shutting down any reference to such a blatant crime. If the President and his staff did in fact alter the intelligence information given to Congress and the public then they need to face Impeachment and criminal charges! I don't have any way to determine the truth of this memo but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that if no one has been able to question the truth of it after all this time then there needs to be an investigation into the behavior of the man we elected to uphold and protect the laws of this nation!

Don't misunderstand me folks, I'm not one of those rabid Bush-bashers (though I'm not a fan either. Didn't vote for him either time). He's the President of this nation and I've always given him my respect because of the office he holds. Nor am I a peace-freak who opposes war for any reason. There are times and situations when military force is the only avaialable option and I fully support its use. You will find no greater proponent of the Armed Forces of this nation than me: I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the men and women who put on a uniform and pick up a weapon to protect my ass! I am in NO WAY questioning the soldiers out there who are doing nothing but their duty, and doing it remarkably well. But duty -ours duty as citizens- compels us to ask why one man should have the ability to sentence 1,600 +/- soldiers to die for no other reason than: he wanted them to. The power of the Executive Branch was limited in the Constituion for very good reasons, one of which was to avoid exactly this situation. If President Bush intentionally violate those limits, we need to know it! We need that information so we -as a nation- can decide whether we want any more of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children dying on foreign soil because our leaders fixed their intelligence to meet their personal desires. This needs more investigation!

I don't know how to help move such an investigation along, but maybe someone out there does. This little blog is certainly not going to have any effect but if you're reading this, please bring the "Downing Street Memo" to the attention of everyone you can. Maybe one of them can do something to help shed some light on this situation.

Alright, I'm done prostelytizing now.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Writing Addiction

I never knew writing was addictive.

I found out last night that when it's going well, it's damn hard to stop! I got onto the type-in for GS, intending to do only an hour or so of work because I had a load of crap I had to do for the day job (brought the ol' laptop home & everything!) Four hours later I realized I had never quite gotten to the work I needed done for a noon seminar today. No biggie I guess - -I got up a bit early today and got it done before heading to the office. It was really cool though to push through that much work and not even realize how long I'd been typing away. I was having a blast! I got nearly a hundred pages of edits done and added in another 5k of new stuff out of my notebook. I have no idea why I enjoyed it so much, I just did. Normally, edits are low on my pleasure list (somewhere just above tooth extraction) but this novel is really coming out the way I want it to. Maybe that's the key: doing the edits correctly and in some reasonably organized manner. Never tried that before! (Okay, so brilliant I ain't!)

Got a bunch of nice e-mails and congrats from folks on my poem yesterday. Even the wife was thrilled and gushed for a little bit about how talented I am (gushing wives are very good things!). All in all, the whole process was a very nice ego boost for me and I'm really looking forward to getting Holly's ARC of Talyn. I've read the frst two chapters on her site and they are fantastic!

Tonight is a Boy Scout night, so there will be little writing done. That's alright though, I always have fun working with the kids so it's a fair trade off. I need to really start working on my agent query now. GS is at the 70% mark on the type-in and I want to start sending them out the moment it's ready. (have I mentioned this scares me? Oh wait -only about a dozen times. Okay, moving on then . . .) I haven't done more than 2-3 thousand words on "Fish" in the last two weeks, just been too damn nuts around here. Hopefully that'll ease up soon and I can get back on it. I'm down to the last two chapters, then I'll put it aside to rest as I start on my next project.

Well, I have to get hustling for work right now. I've been printing out several hundred pages of handouts as I typed this and they should be done now . . .


Monday, June 06, 2005

A Good Monday

Yes, Loyal Reader: you read the title of this post correctly. For once in my life (believe me, I'm as shocked as anyone!) I have had a Good Monday. (Best guess here: the King of the Damned is wearing a wool turtlneck sweater today . . .)

For starters, my poem was one of the two winners of Holly Lisle's contest and I was very pleased (surprised-but very pleased!) by her kind words. Poetry not being my forte, it was doubly nice for me. Also, I ran a four hour seminar today, which -while not fun- at least went easily and was well received. The boss was thrilled and complimented me in front of the office bigwigs, which was a good thing.

The weekend was very nice, the couples baby shower turned out to be nothing more than a dinner party (thank God!) and my brother's wedding was a very nice affair. I got to see all my family, especially all my lovely nieces who I don't see often enough. On Saturday, I got in a lot of type-in for GS and I'm really happy with the way the whole thing is turning out. I have a good feeling about this book.

Holly had an interesting topic of her site today: "The five smartest mistakes I ever made". She asked folks to post their own on their blogs, so here are mine . . .

1. I Quit School and Left Home at Age 14

This was a real rough time for me but it was necessary. I'm not a proponent of either of these things as good ideas but it forced me to grow in ways I never could have imagined. I had gone from being a perfect child and straight "A" student to doing drugs, failing every class, being brought home by the cops each night and seriously contemplating suicide. Leaving that environment behind taught me I was capable of facing life on my own terms.

2. I got married way too young.

Twenty-one years old is too early for anybody to make a lifetime commitment. Lucky for me I hit the right woman the first time out of the gate. She turned me around, taught me to believe in my own potential and stuck by me through more scary shit than you'd ever want to hear about. Fifteen years later and I'm here to tell ya' it was the smartest thing I ever did. Period.

3. I started two (failed) businesses

I learned more by failing than I ever could have succeeding. I was looking for the easy way out, the quick buck, and an escape from dreary adulthood. Failing taught me that you get what you earn and you have a right to be proud of what you've got, no matter how little it may be.

4. Had my son when we were piss-poor and just gone into hock up to our ass to buy a home.

Could barely meet the mortgage and needed tens of thousands (that we didn't have) to make the dump liveable. The boy was an incredible financial strain we couldn't begin to handle. He was also the greatest gift I could ever conceive of and worth every second of the three jobs I worked to get by. He's the greatest thing I will ever do in my life and I than god for him every day.

5. I cut my entire family and all my friends out of my life for an extended period. Spoke to none of them for years -didn't even invite my family to my wedding.

That was painful. For me, and for the folks I care about. It was done out of anger and misunderstanding but I needed that space away to become a man. I found my own voice, my own beliefs, and my own way of facing the world that I never could have done if I had those people hovering over my shoulder, giving advice and disapproving this or that. I needed time to become me. Now it's all settled and I'm back in their lives, but it's on my terms, not theirs.

That's it. That's me in a nutshell. Hope it doesn't frighten you too much (It scares the hell outta me!)


Friday, June 03, 2005

Quick and Dirty Weekend

Ah, Friday!!!!

It's late in the day and I only have a few moments to post. Just wanted to give you the quick and dirty on the weekend:

First - I'm off to a "couples" baby shower with the wife tonight (what the hell is that and how'd I get roped into going?)

Second - The boy is spending the weekend with his grandparents so hopefully I get some time in for writing (though I know the wife is thinking: Yardwork!)

Third - My younger brother's wedding is Sunday night (yea, Sunday!) should be fun to see the whole gang. Having to work on the next (evil) day sucks though.

Fourth - Since the boys away, maybe a little "alone" time for mom & dad, eh? (wink, wink, nudge-nudge . . . say n'more, ay?)

Fifth - don't really have a fifth, so I'll say good weekend to all!


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Poetry, Quotes, and Time Off

Hey, I just stopped in over at Silent Bounce and saw that the poem I submitted for Holly's contest has made her finalist list. That's a very cool thing!! There's a poll on the sidebar for folks to vote for their favorite entry so if you're in the mood, stop in and read a few of the posts on "Rediscovering Honor" (No, you DO NOT need to vote for my entry! though it is called "Tuesday 8:45 a.m." in case you were wondering . . .) I have to say that all the entries are very powerful stuff. There's some fine writing and powerful images in those submittals. I'm very honored to be listed among them.

I did a good bit of type-in for GS last night . . .HEY! Maybe one of you fine readers can help me out with something. I wanted to use a quote in the book that my old man used to give me all the time, It goes something like: "It's better to be robbed at the point of a gun than the point of a pen" (paraphrasing here) and I tried to find it -or anything similar- all over the WWW with absolutely no luck. Anyone have any idea who said this? I'd always thought it was Shakespeare but I couldn't find it. Drop a comment on this post if you have any clues. Thanks!

Anyway, the writing went well, even though night is not my most prolific time. I am definitely a morning writer (which is very odd, since I am definitely not a morning person!) I work best between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. After that it becomes something of a chore. I'll just have to suck it up for now though, I have no time at work to write during lunch.

I was thinking about it last night and I realized I need a few days off - SOON! I haven't had a single day off work since December. Even most of my holidays (ala, last weekend!) I've wound up working on. Weekends are either spent working on the house or running after 30 or so Boy Scouts. I need a few days to just relax, read, maybe write a little, and recharge the batteries. Father's Day is coming up but that weekend is already fully booked so no rest there. I do have two days scheduled for the end of this month and I'll be taking the family on a mini-vacation so that will definitely help. I just have to push through until then. In the meantime I'll just keep writing and doing my best to entertain you: my fellow travelers on the way to publishing fame and fortune!!


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Words: Great and Embarrasing

I finished reading Ursula LeGuin's "The Telling" last night. I am always fascinated by her writing. It always strikes me as so . . . peaceful. She writes of intellectual and emotional struggles much more than external ones. She always works from a standpoint of racial, cultural, and sexual equality (Not that everyone in her books is always treated equally by their society but that they are all treated as worthwhile people in their own right by the author) So much of what she does is completely the opposite of what modern "fantasy" has become. Quite the opposite of what I write myself actually. It's always wonderful to visit one of her worlds and to read through her soft prose. It's very much like watching a master carpenter carving a chest. You can sense the immense skill she has in her craft and feel the calmness it brings to her. I am usually more of an action kinda guy but something about LeGuin speaks to me; like walking through a quiet forest at sunrise with the dew dripping off the leaves as far off birds begin calling to each other through soft mists rising off the lake shore. Yea. Just like that.

I got some work done on Godslayer last eve (not enough of course, but some!) and I'll be getting more done tonight. Work is still pushing hard at me, though not nearly as bad as the last few weeks. Soon (I hope!) soon, I will be free once more to romp the hills of creation hand-in-hand with my Muse.

Back to exercising every day (I feel SO much better!) I think I shall never be a threat to the Tony Little's of the world but I am satisfied with the bit I do to keep the body from turning to mush.

I love Internet radio stations! Right now I'm listening to LiveIreland which is playing some great traditional Celtic tunes done by new (and really talented) bands. Great stuff!

I finally got caught up on my Crits for the ladies over at FM. I felt particularly bad about holding them up. We've been moving through each others work pretty quick (at least a chapter/week each) and I was a no-show for the last two. They were very understanding about it but my daddy taught me to never keep a lady waiting (Jebus help you if it's two!)

Last thing - a minor annoyance here: did anyone else see President Bush's response to Amnesty Internationals condemnation of the U.S. treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? No, this isn't a political rant, just one about stupidity and embarrasment. Our brilliant leader said that the info in the report came from:

" . . .people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble, that means not tell the truth. So it was an absurd report."

dis·as·sem·ble (dĭs'ə-sĕm'bəl) v., -bled, -bling, -bles.
To take apart: disassemble a toaster.v.intr.
To come apart: The unit disassembles easily.
To break up in random fashion: The spectators began to disassemble.

I'm sorry, but it's very embarrasing when the leader of our nation can barely speak our language. It is made so much worse when he offers a definition of a word he used to a room full of well educated jouranlists . . . and he's fucking wrong! (Of course, I find it even WORSE that not one journalist anywhere has pointed out this mistake!) I believe the word ol' Dubbya wanted was:

dis·sem·ble (dĭ-sĕm'bəl) v., -bled, -bling, -bles.
To disguise or conceal behind a false appearance. See synonyms at
To make a false show of; feign.v.intr.
To disguise or conceal one's real nature, motives, or feelings behind a false appearance.

Nice going, Mr. President, you're making us all so proud!

Ah well, a petty thing I admit, but it was enough to set me screaming (really, I did!) out loud at the television when I first saw the clip last night. BTW: In case you think I misheard, here's MSNBC's quote from his answer. Quite a difference, going from LeGuin to G.W., huh?

Okay, off to work on GS now.