Monday, January 30, 2006

Thank You, Miss Snark!

You know what day it is.

Need I say more?

Ah well, I'm still in a fairly good mood despite several very good reasons to b bummed. Why you ask? (Okay, I know you didn't ask, but play along, okay?) Well, my ever-curious reader: because I gots me some good news on Friday & I'm still thrilled by it. Seems the entire re-write of the query/synopsis must have done at least a little bit of good because I shot it out to a major agency that takes e-mail queries and they asked for a partial submit of "Slayer". BOO-YAH! (Have I mentioned that Miss Snark totally rocks?)

Oh, alright . . . so it's only a very minor step and just as like to lead to a polite "Thanks, but not for us" but it cheered me just the same. At least somebody finds it worth a bit of readng time! I'll let you know how it goes. Nothing yet on the two story submittals but that's cool. They always take a few weeks at least. I'm busy putting together the requested novel synopsis and pages for the moment. They wanted a shorter synopsis than I had done, so I'm editing the hell out of the thing. I think it works reasonably well, but I'm nervous that I'm not getting enough of the plot into the damn thing. Still, I'm not shooting myself in the foot by not giving them exactly what was asked for, so . . .

Much work on cleaning up the house this weekend. The contractor is still plugging away but we're starting to get within shouting distance of the finish line (I shouldn't say that, should I?) It will be great when it's all done. Even just straightened up a bit, the place is beginning to look really nice. More cleaning to be done tonight and (of course!) the contractor will be back tomorrow to make a ruin of everything we've cleaned . . . don't ask!

So it's Mon-damn-day, I'm still sick, work is crazy as hell, and I inhaled so much plaster over the weekend I'll be crapping out sheets of drywall for the next month (Now THERE'S a trick!) but I just don't care. An honest-to-god-real-agent out there thinks my work is worth looking at. that's enough to make me smile on a Monday . . . hell, I'll smile twice tomorrow! In the meantime, I get it out in the mail, daydream for a few minutes about my pending meteoric rise to authorial super-stardom (SHHHHH!!!! Don't wake me up!) and then get my fat old ass back to work on "First".

Yup, that'll do me fine.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dog Chow

I feel like Dog Chow today. My joints ache, head is pounding, throat raw and sinuses clogged. Being sick is the worst!

So, I just finished reading Lynn Viehl's "Way of the Cheetah". What a great book! It's a step-by-step outline of her own writing process and I was totally fascinated by it. Funny thing is, a lot of the things she writes about are the exact things I had to do to get myself into a regular writing routine. I imagine all of us in this profession have to find our way to the simple process of: "park your ass in the chair and do the work" but this book has some great ideas and methods to help you get into that daily swing. I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to write for a living.

Actually, I have to admit I've been slacking on the regular work ethic lately. Been blaming it on the house problems but I can't let that happen anymore. I just have to push through the stress and GIT-R-DONE! Overall though, I am pretty damn happy with the amount of work I've churned out over the last year. My final word count for 2005 fell out just short of 600,000 words. That would be the equivalent of 5-6 standard length novels (or three if you're as long-winded as I am!) That is pretty satisfying. It makes me think I have it in me to really do this on a regular basis. It's kinda funny actually. For years I worried that if I wrote that much I'd run out of ideas and/or fresh words. Imagine my surprise when I realized the exact opposite was happening! I have more story ideas, creatures, and worlds bouncing through my brain now than ever before. (much to my wife's annoyance - I tend to fade off into extended "daydreaming" when she'd much rather I be focused on doing the dishes or taking out the garbage!)

So, back to the contractor saga:

In the end, I decided to give him one last shot. Why? Well, mainly because he's already been paid to do a decent chunk of the work he hasn't gotten to yet. Also because even though I have no illusions about him actually getting the entire job done, every bit he accomplishes is one less thing I have to do, and a few less dollars that I paid out for nothing. I warned him that if if he disappears once more: he's fired. If he's not done by next Friday (yea, right!): he's fired. He agreed to all this, and agreed to the items I need to backcharge him on as well. He claims he wants to finish the job because he's never left a job undone in his life.

We shall see.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Live and Learn

Sorry for the no-post yesterday . . . stress levels at an all time high here abouts.

Well, I haven't been doing any "writing" per-se but I have been doing a lot of reading and a good bit of work on my synopsis for "Slayer". Thanks to some of the brilliant readers of this blog (Yes, I mean you!) I was directed toward the Miss Snark blog (never to be confused with Ms. Snark, lest you want serious damage done to sensitive regions of your anatomy with stilleto heels!) Now, I know I' m late getting on the bandwagon here but this has got to be one of the most useful sites on the web! Not only is she damn funny but she provides some kick-ass advice on the business end of this rollercoaster we call writing! I read through a lot of her archives, paying particular attention to her "Crap-o-Meter" as it pertains to queries and synopsis. In short: I dumped everything I had and started from scratch, using every bit of advice she offered and following through all the cross links to other wonderful places on the web to glean juicy tid-bits on how to handle this part of my career.

Now I'm doing a wee bit more of polishing, then getting the damn thing in front of agents. I'm starting with the ones that take e-mail queries first. (House still not done!) When I have the capability, I'll move on to the snail mail. (Though with a bit of luck, I won't need to, eh?)

Have I mentioned that contractors suck? (Oh, wait . . . about fifteen million time now, right?) Dumb-ass showed on Monday but got nothing done. On Tuesday, he called at 10:00 a.m. to say he was on his way to the house but when I got home that night . . . nothing! He was never there! I freaked. Wife and son did the "duck and cover" as F-bombs started landing throughout my living room with a vengeance. So -reasonably- the wife and I decided we were done. We were firing his useless ass. Today he calls and I give him the word: (ala: The Donald) "You're Fired!"

Oh goodness, the excuses . . . the pleading . . . the tears! (okay, no tears ,but definite whining on his part!) Seems he had to take one of his employees last minute to the airport and buy them a ticket for Cleveland (or some other scary place in the middle of nowhere!) because the kid's sister died suddenly. Bullshit? I don't know (though I have my suspicions!) In any case, he wants to finish the job, even though I told him he could just walk without a fight and that if he stays I'm backcharging him for a ton of crap. I don't know what we're going to do now. Truth is, if I let him go now he's quite a few bucks to the good on me. The wife and I are thinking about it and I'm supposed to talk to him tonight. I'll let you know where it lands . . .


Monday, January 23, 2006

A Cup of Coffee

A good wife can help make even Mondays bearable.

I didn't know that until this morning but apparently it is so. I got to start this first, and most vile, day of the work week with a smile on my face for once. The wife gave me a special gift this morning (no . . . not THAT! You should have your mind washed out, with such filthy thoughts!) She had to drive the boy to school this a.m. because he was carrying a large project and on the way home she stopped at Dunkin' Donuts and got me a cup of hot, fresh, coffee. It was waiting for me in the car as I left for work. How cool is that?

So, news from the writing world:

Well, I edited and sent out a second short story on Friday. Not sure where the sudden urge for the shorts came from but I figured to just go with it for the moment. Over lunch today I started re-working the synopsis and query letter for "Slayer". I've been doing a good bit of reading on the Web lately about both those topics and think I see where my problems lie. With a bit (read: a shitload!) of work and some luck I may be able to get some more positive responses out of some agents/editors. I also just bought Holly Lisle's "Create a Character Clinic" and PBW's "Way of the Cheetah" from Holly's new online shop. Both these writers have been key to helping me get my act together and start moving toward the publication goal so I'm really looking forward to reading both e-books.

On the home front:

I have determined that I am clueless about what motivates people and that I should just shut up and learn to go with the flow. I was convinced the contractor was trying to screw me and get out of completing the job I paid him to do, hence the no-shows. So, on friday night he comes by the house to talk to me (I had every intention of bootin' his ass to the curb!) and apologize up one side and down the other. He promises to get the job done and to show good faith, he was there all day Saturday and Sunday (Both! He didn't leave my house until nearly 8:00 p.m. last night!) Not only was he there, but his wife and daughter came with him and pitched in. I don't know what to think now. He promises that he will personally be there every day until the job's done. Will he follow through? I have NO friggin' clue. I'm just goin' with the flow . . . Good thing: the kitchen sink is up and working now, which makes the wife happy as all get out. (Hence, my morning coffee surprise!) It means she doesn't have to do dishes in our bathtub any more!

Stress has been taking a heavy toll on my ability to write recently. My mind is too locked into the house problems to focus on the current novel, hence the editing of older stuff and the reading of writerly "how-to" things. It keeps me moving forward, without the need to be particularly creative. The creativity is on a back burner until my home life gets back to something resembling normality. Working on synopsis and queries will keep me occupied until I can return to the regular writing schedule.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

All I'm Sayin' Is: Someone May Need a Little Nap!

Well, instead of working on "First" today, I used the lunch hour to revise a short story I did a while back and shot it out to a likely looking magazine. (I'll tell you which one if they buy it, otherwise I'll pretend I never put up this post . . . cool, huh?) Nah, I'll tell you whether it's published or no, I just don't wanna jinx things. I went for the short today because I like the story a lot and because I could use a punch in the arm right now. Selling a short might be just what I need to get myself motivated.

Why the lack of motivation? The house of course, what else? Seems like the contractor has bailed on finishing the job and we're likely to end up in court over it. This of course means I will have to finish the house myself, which will chew up all my free time and quite frankly: piss me off to no end! It's frustrating as hell some days, ya' know? Other folks hire contractors regularly and things work out fine. I try ONCE in my life and get hosed in the process.

Dude, I may change my name to "Murphy"!!!!

Enough bitching. Truth is, I don't mind doing the work nearly as much as I say. It can be satisfying to look at it when you're done and know you did it yourself. I've done all the rest of my home by hand, might as well finish it out, right? I'm just hoping the wife and I don't kill each other in the process . . .

She has ways of "helping" (read: pointing out that I've done everything wrong) that make me abso-friggin-lutely nuts. I do much better when she's not around. There is nothing worse than working like an animal all day to get something done then have somebody come waltzing in (clean, nicely dressed, and fresh from a loooovely day with their family!) to tell you that it looks terrible and: how could you not see that? God, you're so lazy! This house would fall down if I weren't around to tell you the right way to do things! Oh, stop whining . . . so you had to do a little work for once! You have to tear it all out, it's not what I want!! And on, and on, and on . . .

Yea, I love her desperately but we DO NOT play nice together.

Funny part is she doesn't even realize she does it. Each time a new job comes up and I ask her to stay away while I do it, she's shocked! She can't conceive of why I don't appreciate that she's helping me. Well, I'm sure she has her own side of that story that she could tell (which no doubt begins with the words: "That asshole husband of mine . . .") but this is my blog darlin' so: PHHHHHTT!!! (go get your own!)

Truth to tell, she's probably right. I am no dream to be around when I'm cranky and doing work I didn't want to do always makes me cranky. Still, any way you cut it: I get more done and with less screaming if I'm left to my own devices. Of course, then I get pissed cuz I'm doing all the work by myself . . .

Yea, she's definitely right.

So, writing will not get any easier in the forseeable future but I'll keep plugging at it. Someday, I'll have an office, and a desk, and maybe an hour or two each day where I can sit down and write. It's a nice dream, anyway.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mistakes and Exploding Heads

'Ello, all!

2,400 words in for "First" today. Not too bad for a lunch hour . . . The only issue I have right now is that I made a MAJOR mistake in my outline and what I've done so far. See, my MC wound up banished to the ass-end of nowhere because of something extraordinarily stupid he did for what he "thought" was the love of his life. This woman comes back into the story later (after he meets the real Mrs. MC, of course!!) and I only just now realized I have not put in one word about their relationship. Oh, I've done a good bit of build up on the mystery of the actual event that got his ass in the sling but the good old love-lorn, broken heart stuff? Nada! That level of stupidity astounds even me (and I KNOW what a dumb-ass I am! You folks are only just GUESSING I'm a dumb-ass!) Ah well . . . there's always editing!

House is being worked on once again (though for how long, not even God is willing to say. I called the old fellow last night and he said omniscience only goes so far . . .) The contractor swears he'll be done by next Monday (and the check's in the mail and I promise I won't . . . well, you know the rest!) Big thing is, he has to have the kitchen portion done tonight because the counters are being installed tomorrow morning. Listen for an ungodly loud noise at about 10:00 a.m EST tomorrow . . . that will be my head exploding when the counter guys arrive and he's not ready for them.

Boy Scouts tonight. My son is still grounded from attending until he squares out the grades but he's been (seemingly) doing much better so he should be back at it in a few weeks, once I get his next report card. I'm still working with the troop in the interim, though I have taken a lesser role than the one I was supposed to take. They wanted me to be the next Scoutmaster but I just never felt comfortable with that role . . . not enough experience outdoors or with the program in general, ya' know? We got another sucker . . . um, I mean volunteer, to take that position and I went for Committee Chair. Much less time consuming and stressful! Leaves me much more time for writing and getting the house squared away.

Here's something interesting off of PBW's site today. I don't know who the characters are truly based on but it's pretty damn funny. I particularly love the song up front. Brings me right back to High School when The Ramones were the kings, man! I'm looking forward to part II of this . . .

Exercise . . . yes, I AM still working out every day (Hah! Take that, you disbelievers!) Weight loss? Beats the hell out of me, I STILL haven't found the friggin' scale. I'm still fat if that helps you visualize better (though if you're sitting there visualizing me, you REEEEAAALLY need to get out and get a hobby!) I place myself somewhere above"Hard-Body" and somehwat below "Holy Shit, It's Coming This Way!" Vague description I admit, but it's all I've got at the moment.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Jimmy-the-Stooge and the Blustery Blog


Pretend you don't know what day it is and maybe it will go away!

"Dum-de-dum . . . Tut, tut, it looks like Tuesday!"

Sigh. No such luck.

Well, after the last few days, this vile day of the week has lost its bite (to some extent). Let's start with my post of last Thursday, shall we? I was so happy, so pleased, things on the house were JUST PEACHY! (Dumb Ass!) Did I say the contractor was moving along well? Oops.

I arrive home Thursday night to find (gasp!) he was never there on Thursday. Ok. Call his cell . . . no answer. Voice mail full. Call his office: ditto. Friday I am on the road, no chance to call him. Friday night when I get home? A No-Show once more! Call the cell again . . . no answer but I get the voice mail and go ballistic. Liberal use of colorful metaphors and vulgar language, replete with remarks on the sexual habits of his mother. Saturday . . . need you ask? Surprise though, he calls me back Sat. morning, all full of apologies and promises. Why the MIA act? Couldn't tell you. He gave a 20 min. rambling explanation that I didn't bother listening to. I just gave him a deadline, told him if he wasn't done by then he's out and he knew I damn well meant it. If he wants the rest of his money, he WILL get this damn job done. God news: he just called me and they're on site today. Doubt they're doing much, but at least they're there . . .

So, for the rest of the weekend I was playing IT Geek. I got the new laptop in, as well as a wireless router and an extra wireless card for my boy's system. I had to install the hard drive from my old system into my son's desktop, install the wireless card, set up the laptop and router, get the WN online, verified, and secure, then copy all our needed files onto the laptop. Then I spent a few hours getting the file/printer sharing working, followed by more time setting my son up with his own e-mail account and wireless internet connections. Follwing that, I had to pull apart the old mass of wires, monitors, printers, speakers, etc. that were left from the old system and arrange the new setup neatly in the space we are using for an office right now. I spent nearly two full days crawling under desks, running between rooms, cracking open cases, and installing hardware. As I did so, the wife and boy went to her sister's for a relaxing day of play and chatting. No problem there, but I would have appreciated not having her give me attitude for not cleaning the house or taking out the garbage while I was home "relaxing" all day. Word to all the ladies out there: just because you're not around to supervise us does NOT mean we were sitting on the couch all day, watching reruns of "The Man Show", scratching ourselves, and swilling beer. Take a minute to look at what was accomplished before you start complaining, eh?

I thank you on behalf of men everywhere.

Writing . . . nothing over the weekend but I got 2,700 words at lunch today so I'm pleased about that. Still a bit depressed over the "Is this worth all the time and effort?" thing but that sems to come and go with the wind so I'm learning to just ignore it and keep typing. Whining accomplishes nothing (except perhaps to annoy you poor folks reading this blog!) so I'll pass on it and just say I'm NOT going to give up the work, even though it does get hard some days. I actually have some ideas about really moving the professional career forward. I won't bore you with them now but if they work out as I hope, I'll definitely fill y'all in on the details.

And finally (for all those who caught the reference in my opening statement) TTFN!


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Quantum Theory of Wanting

Ah, sight! What a wonderful thing! I am back to normal (well, as close to it as I ever get, anyway!) again and you may freely hold me culpable for all bad spelling and grammar mistakes you find in my post today.

Got about 1,500 words on "First" so far today. With a touch of luck, I can get some more in this evening. It was a hard writing day actually. Despite my excitement of yesterday, I had trouble getting the words down. The imp-of-the-perverse was hard at work, laughing its little impish ass off at me I guess. Seems that the good days only show up when you're not expecting them. When you're out trolling for them, they're nowhere to be found. Hmmm . . . in younger years, I noticed the same was true of available women. Looking for sex? Never gonna get it! Sitting on a bench thinking about clouds? BAM, they're all over you! Later, I also noticed the same was true of relationships. Looking for Mr/Mrs Right? Sorry, they're on extended holiday in Bora-Bora. Give up and stay home to read a good book? BAM, there's a phone call and it's the wife-to-be on the line!

Hey, I may have uncovered one of the great universal mysteries here . . . have to think on that. :-)

So, I gave up on repairing the old computer and popped the hard drive out of it. I'll toss that into my son's system over the weekend and burn all our important files to CD. In the meantime, I ordered a lovely new DELL (read: not-fuckin'-Gateway!) laptop that should be in my grubby little hands tomorrow (or Monday at the latest) I LOVE laptops! The one I use for work is da' bomb! I just don't like keeping personal stuff on it, ya' know? I've had a few too many "sudden" departures from companies in the past to want to risk losing some of my writing because I've been "unplugged" due to downsizing/cutbacks. I'm not expecting that here, but hell: I didn't expect it the other time either!

House is moving, baby! As of last night, kitchen and basement were primed and ready for final paint. The contractor is positive he will be done in a matter of days now (yea, sure!) I won't count on it, but methinks I see a bit of light at end of yon tunnel! Ah well, gotta run to pick up my prescription for new contacts from the eye Dr. Traveling for work tomorrow, so maybe no post . . . if not, good weekend to all!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blind Typing!!

Okay, folks, fair warning today: I am writing this post blind.

No, I am not exaggerating, I just got back from the eye Dr. and the eye drops they used to dilate my eyes have left me the next best thing to blind. I can't really see what I'm typing. The words are all just a large blur so I'm not responsible for any typos or spelling today. This is really bizarre! I'm so sensitive to light that I can't even look at the screen . .I have to look at the keyboard as I type this (which is helping actually, because the letters are so big!)

I did get a bit of wirting done today, a few hundred words and I'm hoping that once these damn drops wear off I'll get some more in tonight. I'm at a cool place in "First" right now. My MC has finally managed to completely win over the troops he's in charge of. He's taken them from planning his murder when he first arrive, to cheering him nd devotion. I like the way he grew in that role and I want to finish out the big turning point scene.

Anybody else get excited by their own writing like this? I love it when I read back over my words and it all plays out nicely in my head like a film. I'm pretty good at doing that - reading differently as a reader and a writer, even for my own stuff. I try to read everything I do from each POV. Once for technical issues, then as a reader to make sure it flows and there are no jarring breaks in the narrative. Bottom line is I'm an egotist (surprise) I really love the sound of my own vice, even when it's on paper!

Anyway, typing this is giving me a headache. I need to close my eyes and let this crap wear off. Talk at ya' tomorrow!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Big Numbers

Words for today (and a bit from last night) 2,800 . . . not killer, but not bad either. It puts me just over 80,000 words so far on "First" Hmmm . . . based on the outline, that's less than 1/3 of the book, which would put me at about 260,000 words (approx 1,000 pgs.) HOLY CRAP! That is one seriously large book! Damn, I may have to rethink parts of that, especially since it's only book one of a series (we all know I'm a series geek!) Man, that means if I'm averaging 2K/day, I'm looking at . . . 90 or so days until completion . . . say around end of April? Not too bad, I guess. Hey, at least I should have my house and office back by that time!

Funny. I can think of a time (not very long ago either!) when numbers like that would have scared the hell out of me or made me so depressed I'd give the whole thing up for bad business. Today: "1,000 page novel? No prob!" How cool is that? (patting self on back frantically.) Whatcha think? There may be hope for me yet, eh? Well . . . I won't start writing my jacket bio quite yet but it's a start.

So, exercise and dieting is going well (knock wood!) I'm at it every morning and being careful of what I eat. The body is feeling good, which is always nice, though I have no clue if I'm losing weight or not since the scale is lost somewhere in the contracting hell that was once my home! Probably a good thing actually. I cant obsess over the poundage if I don't know where I am. Maybe I'll just assume I started at: "Too Damn Fat" and am slowly making my way toward: "Somewhat Less of a Lard Ass" and leave it at that.

Other than that, not too much craziness for today. The contractor actually started painting yesterday, which means that most of the major construction work is done so I may return to a normal life sometime within the next decade after all! Work wasn't too bad today and the wife and boy are fine (neither mad at me for the moment, which is a rarity in itself!) Still listening to my 80's every day (diggin' on Run DMC & Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" at the moment . . . oh yea, I am HAPPENIN'!)

Oooohhh!!! Just realized: season premier of "The Shield" is on tonight. My butt will be watchin' that for sure. Great show. The SP of "Battlestar Galactica" was on last Friday, the boy and I watched together. He loves that show even more than I do. We were on the edge of our seats the whole time. Thing gets more intense every episode. If you haven't seen: go now (run, don't walk!) to the nearest vid-shop and rent Season One!!!!!!!!!

I'm a total geek, aren't I? (Yea, like you didn't know that already!)


Monday, January 09, 2006

What I've Learned

Monday, that unwashed-skank-whore-with-open-sores-on-her-lip of a day, is upon us once more. (Oh, and: EEEEEEWWW! That was a vile image!) I try. I REALLY try to make this day less repugnant. I get up on time, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, try to go about with a smile on my face . . . to no avail. No matter what I do, the day ALWAYS sucks.

Well, at least the weekend wasn't too bad (with the exception of the Giant's humiliating loss!). I got in a solid 4,500 words on "First" as well as a good start on some maps I need to keep things straight in my head. The words were good, and even managed to stay (somewhat) on the track of my outline. Still waiting for my new power supply so all work done on the work laptop.

I'm a little . . . frustrated? (we'll go with that for want of a better word) I'm writing regularly again, which I'm pleased about, but I can't shake the feeling that all this work is an exercise in futility. I still feel horribly unready to go about the actual businsess of publishing. I'm still fumbling about, trying to find the right path to get my career started and knowing that knocking about in the dark is never going to get me there. I'm reading all the "How-To" stuff I can find and looking into hitting at least one writer's conference this year but I'm still feeling that I'm just kidding myself. I have the skill (I truly believe that.) but not the business experience to make this happen. I'm still shaky on synopsis and query, still having zero luck at the agent finding (though, to be fair, I haven't had a chance to do any more submittals because of the loss of my office) and absolutely no contact with any professionals in this field (other than a few other authors in the blogosohere).

Hmmm . . . whining again am I? Sorry, it must be Monday.

I keep writing every day but I can't help feeling I'm missing something important here. That I'm not seeing the forest for the trees. I write, I edit, I plan the next piece of work, I've sent out a handful of Agent Queries . . . no submittals direct to publishers though. The slush piles just seem too large for that to have any hope of success. I have work that's ready for the publication process, but no inroad into the workings of that system . . . as I said: frustrating.

Ah well, I'll keep on keepin'-on! No place to work at home is just making this harder to deal with. I can't even attempt to move forward until I can unpack my MS's and lists of agents, editors, etc. Hell, even finding a few square feet to write in is a major production.

So, to sum up my year-to-date, I have learned that:

1. Contractors suck.
2. Tech Support people suck.
3. Mondays suck.
4. Not being published sucks.

Well, that's as good a start as any, no?


Friday, January 06, 2006

It's All About The POLITE!

Friiiiiiiday . . . happy Friiiiiiiiday . . . happy Friiiiiiiday . . . (conjure mental image of large, bald, man dancing and singing, and you're with me!)

I actually got some writing done last night! Popped in another 1,700 words on "First". Not a killer day, but it's forward progress! I'm using the work laptop and was working on the couch yesterday. Not the ideal situation but the office is unusable so I just settled for working during commercials as my wife and I watched the tube. I'll bring the laptop home tonight and try to get a little more "focused" time over the weekend.

So, I just had a WONDERFUL (are you feeling the sarcasm?) experience with Gateway's online support staff. I tried to order a replacement power supply online for the one that fried on my desktop but couldn't find the right model/make in their listings, so I went to tech support. Got online with a woman named Ingrid who (politely) asks me to hold on for a moment (read: 15 minutes!) before handing me off to another tech, named Tony, with no explanation. Okay, no biggie . . . I explain to Tony that I need to order a replacement part but that I can't find it on their site. No problem, he will research it and get me an answer please hold (for 25 minutes this time). He comes back with a link, that I click on - only to find it leads me back to the parts page I started with that DOESN'T have my piece on it. I try to explain this to Tony but the support session suddenly disconnects. Okay. Log back in . . . fill out the stupid forms again . . . and voila'! It's my old buddy Ingrid who once more asks me (politely - with the same form response) to hold on (only 5 minutes this time . . . things are looking up!) before pawning me off on Dave. Alright. I explain the situation to Dave (including the worthless answer Dumb-Ass Tony gave me!) and he says no problem, we can fix that! We're here to help, sir! Just hold on for a moment, please (or 23 minutes as the case may be) Dave comes back with a link to various system cases, asking me to select the one appropriate for my system. I do so, and he (politely!) asks me to continue holding as he does more research. (16 minutes worth) before coming back to tell me (and this is an exact quote!) "Yes, James, you can replace your power supply." I CAN? Wow, thank you so much! Oh, by the way . . . WITH WHAT, YOU FRIKKIN' MORON!!!!

Okay, I didn't say that (sure as hell was thinking it though!) Instead I (politely!) inquire if he can tell me where I can find the appropriate part on his site, or if he can point me to a different make/model that will fit my machine. Of course he can! Please hold on for a moment, sir! (48 minutes this go 'round) before he finally returns with: "Gateway no longer carries parts for your (3 year old!) system. We recommend you try Best Buy or CompUSA, our business partners. They carry the part you need." Fine, it's off to those sites, where (of course!) they carry no such thing! The only place I can find the part I need online is from some mini-computer store in Bumblefuck, Ohio!!! I hate ordering from places I don't know but it was either that or buy a whole new system (Which I want anyway, but Der Frau says das is verboden!)

In the end, Gateway sends me a follow up questionaire, asking if their support staff had been helpful. I responded that they certainly had been!!! Why, if not for the help of your fine staff, I never would have known that I WILL NEVER AGAIN BUY FROM GATEWAY!!! I'm a Dell man from now on. (Use 'em at work and love the damn things.)

Fun stuff, huh?

Hey, here's one of those bizarre twists life takes: you know the contractor that's been making my life hell? Talking with him yesterday, we discovered that he and I worked together some 20 odd years ago. We both thought the other looked familiar but didn't make the connection until we were chatting. Scary thing is he was real good friends with my older brother. Well, maybe that will help get his ass in gear, eh? (Actually, they're starting painting the walls tomorrow, so hope is in the air!) I won't get silly and expect them to be done before the end of the month though . . . I mean, that would just be RIDICULOUS!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Don't Mess With Fate

We cannot tempt fate without eventually getting scorched by itAna Veciana-Suarez

Now, I know this. I've known it for years, and yet I alway let my dumb-ass self poke and prod at Fate's ribs like a little kid wanting his parent's attention. ("Fate, Fate! Look at me!") Fate of course is always happy to oblige and -much like any parent- does not hesitate to smack you upside the head when it finds you're being a wise-ass.

As we all know: Jim is ALWAYS a wise-ass.

So after my lovely post of yesterday espousing the wonderfullness of my life, fate smacked me in the skull. I got home, sat down to get some writing done and no sooner had I type the word "The", when the power supply on my system blew, filling the room with the lovely scent of burnt wire and ozone. (Oh yea, gotta love the smell of charred electonics!) Of course, it followed suit that my wife and I started bickering last night and by this a.m. we were in a full scale argument over how we are raising our son. (She's wrong of course, but don't tell her I said so!) And just to throw some fun in the mix, we have more contractor problems that I have to leave work early today to deal with. Oh, and last night I got no sleep because I was awake till nearly 3:00 a.m. stressing over the house, which is really odd for me. I NEVER stress. I'm usually good at just setting aside what I can't resolve and going to sleep, but not last night! (Fate was having fun with me, you see!)

So, no news on the writing today. I'm taking my laptop with me, to work from home today so I hope I can get some more done tonight after the contractors leave. I also have to pull the power supply out of the home desktop so I can see what type it is and order a replacement. Well, last night wasn't a complete bust . . . since I couldn't write, I DID get to watch a few episodes of "That 70's Show" while the wife and son were out at a family function. I love that show! It cracks me up. It's like watching old films of my teenage years. Too funny! I associate with Hyde. He is exactly the type of paranoid, evil, twisted troublemaker I was back in the day. Hell, I even had the bad perm and tinted foster grants for a while! The whole smokin' in a circle thing? Hell, that was an every day experience for us!

Ah well, gotta bail, I'm splitting early so only ten minutes to post while I scarfed down a sandwich.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Happy Me!

Ahhhh . . . a 3,100 word lunch hour today. It's been quite a while since I've had an easy run like that and I'm hoping to get more done at home tonight. Plunged right into "First" today like I hadn't missed a beat. My MC sidetracked into an unexpected childhood flashback that just poured out of me. I'm not sure it's in the right location as far as the novel is concerned but it will appear in there somewhere! It was a nice little scene of the moment when he crossed the line from child to angry teen and his relationship with his father went to hell. It's a pretty inocuous event really, but it affected him greatly. I imagine that's how such things happen to all of us, no?

I'm itching to get back to editing "Clans" and "Fish" and some more world building for "First" I actually need a bunch of maps, sketches, etc. for this piece. I also have some other (mostly silly) stuff I want to work on but I'm stuck until the contractor finishes up. (Yes, he's still dragging ass but I'm not going into the details or I'll just get all pissed off again!) Anyway, once I have an office again (and a drafting table!) I'll be able to really get back to work on building this grand career as an author I've been prattling about for so long! (thanks for your patience, BTW!)

I am also getting back into some diet/exercise routine (yes, AGAIN!) I'm sore at the moment but I feel energetic and . . . "cleaner" somehow than I have in the last few months, and that after only a few days of exercise! I know, I know: I've told you before how exercise always makes me feel better on all fronts. So your asking (reasonably so!) why the hell I keep letting it slip out of my life? That is a really good question, for which I have no good answer. There is something definitely mis-wired inside my big ol' noggin. Hey, here's another odd discovery I made today: remember I mentioned I've been listening to the Blues a lot? Guess what?


I know, you're saying: "Well, DUH!" and I agree whole-heartedly. I love the music but I find that I have no energy or desire to do much of anything creative when I'm listening to it. Today I went back to my 80's rock station and the words just came a-flowin'! Is everyone that apt to having their brain function distorted by such a minor thing or am I just some sort of psychological basket case? (Hey, I heard that and I know where you live, damn it!) It seems ridiculous that such small things can screw with me. I also have problems when I drink diet sodas (it's the artificial sweeteners!) I hate the damn things to begin with (taste like crap!) but I would drink them whenever I was dieting and I always thought the depressions I'd slip into were because of the diet itself, ya' know? Then I read an article on one of the major medical sites that claimed those sweeteners could cause depression in some folks and I cut them out. Two days later I felt fine and I never had a problem with dieting again (other than, you know . . . the actually losing weight part!) Is it me? Is it the world? Is it Karma or some grand cosmic plan?

Nah, just me I guess.

So, today I feel good. I'm eating well, exercising, and actually putting words on the paper. The wife and I are not fighting, the boy is doing better on completing his school assignments and his test grades are excellent. If I could just get the damn house finished, life would be pretty close to perfect! (Well, I DO still have to work: which is never fun, and the Christmas bills are coming, and tax season, and I'm not published, and . . . well, you get the idea.) All-in-all though, I'm a pretty happy camper today.

I can live with that.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Returned and Re-Tuned!

I have returned from the Land of Burned Out Lazy Old Men (read: my vacation!) and while swamped with the work that has piled up in my absence, I felt the need to reassure you, my loyal readers, that I am alive, well, and actually feeling quite hopeful about the prospects of the New Year. (We'll see how long that lasts before life resumes crapping all over my dreams!) I hope you all had great holidays & spent much time with those near and dear.

As for me, I did just that. Relaxed with the family, slept as much as possible, did damn-all about the house, and read. A lot. I worked my way through four novels last week (and am working #5!) It was wonderful! I love reading and I don't ever have enough time to do as much of it as I want to. The week from Christmas to New Year is always my big reading week. I settle my fat ass into the most comfortable chair available and leave this dreary world for hours at a time, completely immersing myself in worlds of wonder and magic. It's refreshing to the soul. It lets me forget my own work for a time and simply enjoy the beauty of words and story. What did I read? Well, I did George Martin's "A Feast for Crows" (excellent as always, but I felt cheated because he ignored so many of the primary characters of the series. At least until I got to the end and his afterword explained he had to restructure the novel and split it in two because of size considerations. I can appreciate that.) I read Robert Jordan's "Knife of Dreams" (book 11 in the seemingly endless WOT saga. I actually thought this was better that the last three he's done. There were some satisfactory conclusions and bits of hope for the characters, unlike the others which felt cropped and unresolved to me.) I read "King Kelson's Bride" by Katherine Kurtz (one of her Deryni novels. I love the series -her magic and religious structures are wonderful- but this book was disappointing. There didn't seem to be much in the way of story, just tying up of a few loose ends from previous novels.) I also threw in a few Stephen King novels, just for fun. There are still a few of those I haven't gotten to yet so I'm filling in the backlist. Results? All wonderful. I don't think King's ever written a word I didn't enjoy. Sure, some of his books are better than others, but we're talking varying degrees of remarkable here.

So, what's ahead for your truly in the New Year? Well, the same things as last year actually:

1. Write every day. (last year was my most prolific year ever but "every day" was not a goal I reached.)

2. Exercise every day (Well, considering my waistline is larger than it was in Jan. 2005, that was a complete bust!)

3. Publish a novel (More of a "I hope" than a resolution, but #1 & #2 will help get there!)

4. Be a happier person. (I can be one grumpy-old-fuck when I'm of a mind. I let too much silly crap get to me and drag me down. Gonna work on that so the family ain't pulled into my blues!)

Off to fight my way through the piles of papers and 50 or so e-mails I need to address. I'll check in tomorrow!