Friday, June 30, 2006


First off, I got another 1,500 words on “First” yesterday. Not my best day but seeing as it’s been few weeks since I’ve managed anything like regular work, Ill take it and thank you kindly! I liked the comments left on the question of Morals vs. Ethics. It's nice to know I'm not the only nutcase who seriously considers these issues!

Well then, as promised: I will impart to you my own odd little view of the difference between ethics and morals. As I said, it seems to be a very distinct item that shows up in my work, hence at some level I must find it an important issue so I’ll bore you with my viewpoint for a bit and hopefully clarify the whole thing for my own tiny brain.

Morals are a codified set of guiding laws that tell a person what’s right and what’s wrong. Morality is espoused and taught by all religions and most governments have an intrinsic investment in supporting Morality whenever possible. On the surface, Morality seems to be a good thing: most of us would agree that killing is an immoral act and we’d agree that folks should never be allowed to kill each other. There are certain things that people generally accept as being simply: “Wrong” to do. Stealing, killing, telling lies, etc.; these are all immoral acts.

Ethics are a standard of conduct, wherein each individual is responsible for deciding the correct course of action in a given circumstance. On the surface, Ethics and Morals seem very similar. In most cases, both stances would say that killing is wrong. The fundamental difference lies in the fact that Ethics are infinitely flexible, where Morals provide no flexibility whatever. For a Moral person, there can never be a justification for killing, whereas an Ethical person might well deem that killing is the only correct action in a given circumstance. Assume an instance where you are armed with a gun and witness a terrorist about to detonate a bomb. Morally, killing this man is every bit as wrong as killing an innocent child. Morality sees killing as killing, regardless of the victim; it is an absolute. Ethics sees the variable worth of the potential victims and weighs the potential damage the terrorist can cause against the value of his life. An Ethical person would put a bullet in the SOB’s head and be happy that he saved countless other lives. Now, that’s an admittedly extreme scenario, but it underlines the point. On a smaller scale, we would all agree that it is immoral to steal but ethically I think most of us would have no problem stealing food to feed a hungry child. I’d do it and never lose a moment’s sleep worrying about the morality of it. The needs of survival outweigh the rules of personal property. That’s an Ethical decision.

Now to my thinking, any rational person would choose Ethics over Morals at all times. You will note however, that religions and governments alike denounce Ethics. Oh, perhaps not directly, but if you listen carefully you will find that all major religions are opposed to “Situational Ethics” and governments cling tightly to the “Letter of the Law”, leaving little room for justifications when those rules are violated. Morality is a servant of absolute and rigid rule, where the determination of right and wrong is made by those in positions of power. Ethics is an uncontrollable system wherein individuals are responsible for making the best choice possible in a given situation. That level of freedom among people is anathema to power structures. By its very nature, Ethics undermines the status quo and is a threat to religion and government alike.

Morality is a very dangerous tool. It encourages people to not think. Morality is a mental crutch that provides a catch-all excuse for never having to accept change or look at our own beliefs with a rational eye. If something is called “Immoral” we can feel free to ignore it, denigrate it, and even persecute it if we wish. Look at homosexuality: most religions consider it an immoral act and large portions of the world strongly agree, even to the point of physical beating and murder of those who practice it. Morality simply calls it wrong, with little rational explanation of why. (Sorry, “The Bible says so” does not count as a rational reason!) An Ethical person looks at an issue like homosexuality and asks a simple question: “Who does it hurt?” That’s a rational approach. The answer is of course: nobody. The large religions and the government of the U.S. believe otherwise however. Their Moral stance is that it is wrong and a threat to the fabric of our families and nation. How? Simple: it’s immoral!

Morality is an absolute and logic shows it for the cyclical round of justifications that it is.:

1. A thing is immoral.
2. You ask why it is immoral
3. The response: that it is simply the wrong way to behave
4. You ask why it is wrong
5. The answer: (refer to number 1 above)

Ethics have no associated rules; you simply make the best decision you can under the circumstance. It is not expected that you will be right 100% of the time and you will never make a decision that everyone will agree with. You can only do what seems the right thing to you and live with the consequences.

I like to think of myself as an Ethical kinda guy!

So, there’s my diatribe on the two . . . This subject has shown up in every single novel I’ve written. It may not be the main theme, but it is definitely a sub-theme. I don’t support Morality, or any of the structures that create and/or propagate it. I believe that individuals are the only ones who can determine what’s right and what’s wrong and that those two things vary dramatically based upon circumstance and necessity. A lot of folks say that makes me an anarchist, or morally bankrupt.

I’m cool with that.

Have a great holiday weekend, I’m offline until Wed. of next week I think.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Kingdom for a Book!

Got me some work done on "Fish" yesterday. I edited two chapters (with much cutting, I'm afraid!) and it's going pretty well. I was on the road for work all day, so no writing at lunch yesterday and today I was just too busy, so no lunch at all! I also manged to get some reading done over the last week; the first reading I think I've done in months (which really sucks!) I read Robert Jordan's "New Spring" and Stephen King's "Cell".

"New Spring" wasn't a great novel but it filled in some background on a few characters from the WOT and it was interesting. Have I mentioned that my son has become totally hooked on this series? He is currently cranking on book #8 in the series and loving it. Not too shabby for a 12 year old, eh?

"Cell" is a classic King novel. The damn thing is creeeeeeppppppppyyyyyy as hell! It had that old school "The Stand" type of feel, with some interesting turns to the plot that I wasn't expecting. The ending was a little anti-climactic but it was a very good read. Nobody makes the hair on the back of my neck (ya' know, if I actually had any!) stand up like King can.

I miss reading!!!!! The one thing I plan on doing when the house is (finally!) finished is spending LOTS of time sitting in my new over-stuffed chair, reading anything I can lay hands on. I'm in a serious case of novel-withdrawal right now. If I don't get a fix soon, I'm gonna implode! (Which will not be pretty on any level!) Ah well, these two should at least see me through this upcoming weekend. I've got a straight four days off, during which I will (naturally!) be working on the house.

I have a question for everyone today: Is there a difference between ethics and morals?

Strangely, I have found this is a recurring theme in all my writing. I'd like to hear what other folks think, so leave your thoughts in the comments. And -if you're all real good boys and girls- I'll give you my thoughts on the subject in my next post.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Computer Monday

I wonder if Mondays are as frustrating for people who don't work with computers for a living? I swear to you; the perverse little bastards take great pleasure in tanking on Monday mornings. Why? It's not like they've been doing anything all weekend! The office was closed, for chrissake! But noooooooooo . . . the computers have to get all bitchified and give me crap, just cuz! I'm telling you all: the computers are alive and plottin' on us!!!! They're not planning on taking over the world, oh no! Nothing that cliche' for them! Instead, they just intend to annoy us for all eternity and chuckle at out misery in the infinite cyber world that only their terrabyte brains can access . . .

Ah well, never mind. (little side trip, but I'm back now.) To sum it up: IT'S MONDAY AGAIN!!!!

How's everybody doing today? I'm doing good, thanks for asking!

Surprising, eh? I've actually been feeling really good for the last few days. The changes I've made health-wise seem to really be making a big difference. As soon as I figure out if my moronic psyche is able to implement them in the long-term we shall discuss them here (I promise!) in the meantime, I don't want to spout about them now -and how wonderful they are- then have to blog next week about "Oh yea, I stopped doing that." (again!) Right now though, I'm just not feeling sick for the first time in a VERY long time and I'm loving the hell out of it!

Writing - I did background work today mostly. Some ancient history that probably won't make it into "First" but it's stuff I need to know. It was kind of fun actually. I took the questions I had written about my world's history, characters, etc. and started answering them off the top of my head. I have a rough structure of where/how they fit in based on the story but the details of it are surprising as hell. From what I can tell, most writers don't work this way but it seems pretty comfortable for me. It may seem a little back-asswards but hey: when have you ever known me to be anything else?


Friday, June 23, 2006

Fish for Friday!

First off - thanks to SRH & Lynn for their comments on yesterday's post. They were both exactly what I needed to hear. I took your advice and tried to stop sweating it today and just enjoy the writing for its own sake . . . got 1,500 words on "First" for my effort!


So today -as promised- I am giving you a peek at a small section of "Fish". It is not my usual type of epic fantasy work, it's more of a modern horror/thriller mix. This one was rough to write, it brought up lots of bad memories from dark places I thought I'd buried long ago. Fair warning: the language is a little rough and the subject matter is less than charming.

As always: copyright by me, all rights by me, do not copy, fold, spindle, or mutilate without written permission from me, etc.

Have a great weekend!

I puked right then and there. I tossed the entire contents of my belly up onto the tops of my Chuck Taylor’s and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Jesus, if you had felt half of it . . . The raw, naked, terror that poor kid had felt. The desperate pleading in her heart for Mommy and Daddy to come and save her, to make it all safe again; make the world the warm, smiling place it was supposed to be before the Smelly Man had grabbed her.

Oh Christ, the Smelly Man! We could feel the stench of him, not just the foul breath and dirty sweat scent Cindy had gagged on, but the putrid reek of his soul. My god, it was foulness like nothing either of us had ever even dreamed in our worst childhood nightmare. The slightest brush of those twisted, self-hating, warped, emotions felt like you were doing the backstroke on a cesspool with your mouth open. When it hit me, I heaved again, though there was nothing left to come out this time. When the spasm stopped, I went down on one knee, my whole body shivering and not from the cold. I looked over at Jiff. He leaned against the timber support of the bridge as if it were the only thing in the world that could hold him upright. Shit, it probably was. Tears streamed down his face, huge rolling droplets that welled up straight from his heart.

“God, Boomer. Oh, God!”

He couldn’t find any words for it but then, he didn’t have to. I pushed up off the ground and ran to him in a half shamble, throwing my arms around his neck and pulling him close. He didn’t even try to wrap his own arms; he just slumped to his knees, sobbing in huge violent jerks, his face buried in my stomach. I held his head and smoothed down his hair, barely even noticing the tears that were dripping from my own chin and splashing into his wind-tossed hair.

“He . . . he killed her, Boom,” he finally said when the tears his body could produce were all but exhausted. “He did things to her -really bad things- then he killed her.”

His words were a rough whisper, his throat swollen from crying. “How could he do that, Boom? How could somebody do that to her? She was so . . . nice!”

She was too. That’s the thing about life: shit things always happen to the good people while the assholes skate through like Dorothy Hamill on ecstasy. How did the world get like this? Did God make it this way as some sort of a test, or did we just do a stellar job of fucking it up all on our own? Either way, it sucks and good people like Cindy Gross are the only victims. I once heard a preacher say: “The devil protects his own so they can continue his work among us!” Seems logical to me -if you believe in that sort of thing- but you’d think God would have brains enough to try the same tactics; keep the good folks around long enough to help the rest of us poor ignorant fucks. Never works that way though. Maybe the Almighty’s gone senile, or maybe he just missed the memo on how to protect your own people. Ain’t that a cheery thought? I held Jiff until he cried himself out and we headed back towards the park and home.

As we passed the assembled police and federal agents who’d come in to take over the search I paused, my arm still around Jiff’s shoulder. His tears had reduced to dry hiccups and a good case of the shakes. The police -every last one of them- were crying. Crying big, snuffling, drippy-nose style, not the quiet type of mourning you usually see in adults, but kid style. Nine-year-old style. At first I thought they’d found her body, but quickly realized these were cops, not likely to fall apart at the sight of a dead child. I’d heard Jiff’s dad talk about some of the things he’d seen as a volunteer fireman and I’d had nightmares for a week. I figured these guys had seen as much and worse. No, they weren’t weeping because they’d found her, but because of us. They could feel Jiff’s anguish and it was tearing them apart. We’d never broken the link, we were still Pushing! I tried to pull away from Jiff’s heart but it was like trying to pull chewy caramel out of your teeth. He didn’t want me to go, so his heart just stuck onto mine in desperation.

“Jiff, we gotta stop! They can feel us, man!”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Scared Puppies

So, I actually got some writing done yesterday on “First”. Not much, only 700 or so words but it was forward progress. I don’t remember if I mentioned, but I finished the world building notes on this novel. Lots of background work still to do, but I think it will make it a richer piece. I also got some editing work done on “Fish” last night so I’m pretty pleased.

Lately, I’ve been browsing back through my blog; reviewing all my posts from the beginning and I’ve come to a few realizations. For starters: I’m long-winded, but I imagine those of you who’ve been around for a bit already knew that! The other thing I realized is that I’ve been altering my voice lately. I’m not sure why, really . . . but I noticed a distinct change in tone over the last few months. It seems like I’ve been restricting myself to simple surface facts and not getting involved in how I feel about things. It could just be that I’ve been stressed and busy but I think there’s more to it. I think that I’ve been scared to talk about my writing freely because I’ve been feeling frustrated and disappointed. For example: I noted in my back-reading that I told you all about the request for a partial from my Top-Of-the-List-Agent but I never told you the outcome. She sent me a very nice “Thanks, but not for me” letter. Now, I don’t take that personally but I’m frustrated as hell because I’m beginning to think that “Slayer” is not really ready for market and may have to be put to rest.

Truth is, the novel was one of my early works (You know - the ones you hide under your bed and pretend never happened?) that I thought had some potential so I took it out and reworked/re-wrote the entire thing from scratch last year. My writing has improved dramatically over the last two years (I think, anyway) and I thought that would be enough to fix the flaws but now I’m thinking: maybe not! Of course, that makes me start questioning my writing skill in general and makes me nervous about editing “Fish” and “Clans”. I think they’re both professional quality works . . . sort of. I mean, I really do think they are, but there’s this sickly knot in my stomach when I think about sending them out that makes me hesitate. I am terrified of having everything I’ve worked on these past two years simply be: “Not Good Enough”. I have written, re-worked, edited, re-typed, and revised close to 750k words in that time. That’s a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of time taken away from my family pursuing a dream that may never come to pass.

That’s some frightening shit.

That fear is what I’ve been avoiding recently. That’s why the blog’s been a little dry and I’m pretty damn sure it’s also why I’ve been sucking wind on the actual writing end of things. I don’t know if you can call it fear of failure – the idea of never being published in and of itself doesn’t frighten me anymore. I guess you might call it “Fear of Futility” that’s bothering me . . . the idea that I’ll have spent all this time and effort for nothing . . . that no one beside myself will ever read these books. That scares the hell out of me. Tell me I’m never gonna make it: Okay, I’ve got a good life and a great family, I can live with it. Tell me I’m gonna spend years struggling against an impenetrable brick wall for no reason . . . that’s another thing.

So, there it is: my own personal neurosis laid out plain for the world to see. I’m not nearly ready to give up yet, I intend to keep on writing, but I’m going to have to learn to do it while ignoring that knot in my stomach. I can’t let it drag me down. I have to believe that at some point my desire and effort at this craft will bring me up to a level where my work is publishable. Even if I have no natural talent at writing (which, to be honest, I really believe I do!) I have to believe that enough work will bring me to my goal. If it doesn’t . . . hell, I have no idea what I’ll do then, or even if I’ll be able to recognize when “then” is. I may be doomed to typing these pointless words into the unhearing ether for the rest of my days. I imagine this is hardly new territory for writers. Most of us have to face these same fears, right? Even the biggest of us had to be sitting in front of a screen/typewriter at some point wondering: “What the hell am I doing this for? I’m never going to sell a damn thing!”

I sure as hell hope they did, or I’m just one scared, lost, little puppy out here on my own!

And on that cheery thought, I’m out!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Quickie

Hey, how goes it?

It’s the usual amount of nuts here but what can you do? Went to Vermont over the weekend for a wedding. Wedding was nice enough (if you like that sort of thing; which I don’t!) The Wife and I did get to spend Friday night and all day Saturday to ourselves, just browsing little shops and eating a few good meals. That’s always cool. The Wife and I don’t get a lot of chances to just hang, ya’ know? Strangely, after nearly twenty years together we still just like knockin’ around together and . . . strange, no?

I’m trying to shift my life around (yet again!) with regard to health, writing, and general downtime. It’s not an easy thing. Lifestyles are very resistant to change it seems (who knew?) Still, I’m pushing at a dramatic change at the moment that I hope will make a big difference. I don’t want to go into it right now but I’ll let you know how it works out. Or if it doesn’t . . .

Writng? Non-existent yet again. Life is conspiring to stop me from being the next Stephen King (or maybe it’s Mr. King himself! Maybe he’s afraid of my amazing literary skills and is using dark magic to try and keep me down!! Or . . . maybe not.) Oh, BTW: thanks to you folks who left comments on my last post. Glad you enjoyed it. As requested by Lynn (my first official fan!) :-) I will try to get up a section of “Fish” for your reading enjoyment. (Or at least something you can scoff at that will make you feel better about your own writing abilities. I’m cool, either way . . .)

Anyway, busy at work so I gotta run.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Snippet

So, today I thought I'd give you all a clip of "First". I don't post a lot of actual writing up here but I kinda liked this small section. It comes on the ass-end of an unexpected battle that went bad and is a case of my characters asking"What else can possibly go wrong?" (which we -as writers- know is the perfect time for more trouble!) This is just a small clip from the rough draft but I'd welcome any comments or thoughts any of you'd care to leave under the comments. As usual, copyright discalimers, all rights reserved by me, etc.


Whisper had stopped, his smooth black features troubled as he squinted toward the west. Jaim followed his gaze, his good hand dropping reflexively to the haft of the short spear at his belt. He let his eyes flick back and forth across the terrain without any particular focus, seeking motion more than form but he saw nothing.

“What do you see, Scout Commander?”

“Look to the sky.”

Jaim did, his breath hissing out from between his teeth in a mix of awe and frustration. “Gods! Look at the size of it!”

The western skyline was completely covered in a roiling wave of brown and red clouds that moved with frightening speed directly toward them. The clouds spread as far as Jaim could see to the north and south. Beneath the clouds the land was dark, covered by the shadow of the brown clouds and . . . something more. Jaim squinted, straining to see what it was that lay under the mass of seething cloud. It moved and shifted, part of it lost in heat haze and part of it simply a twisting mass of brown, tinged with rust where the pulsing sun touched it.

“Dust storm, Lord Cap’n. Big one. Tsa’tsumi, my people say: Brown Winds.”

“How bad will it be?”

“Very bad. Tsa’tsumi can take flesh off man’s bones. Small one can be survived . . . sometime. This one big; very, very, big. Much damage. If it catch us in Fringe . . .” He shrugged to show the futility of such a happenstance.

“Perfect,” muttered Jaim, rubbing bits of grit from his eye. Already the wind was picking up. They’d have to step up the pace, that storm was moving damn fast. “How long before it hits?”

“Two, maybe three hour, no more.”

Jaim raised his right hand over his head, pumping it up and down three times. The patrol, seeing the assembly sign moved quickly in to see what he had to say. When they were assembled, he pointed out the approaching storm on the horizon. “We do not want to be caught in that, gentlemen,” he said calmly. “We’ve got maybe three hours to get back to the Hold before that storm swallows us.”

“Three?” Cynderi, a small man with thinning hair cried out. “Hell, it took us the better part of a day to get out this far, Lord Cap’n!”

“True enough, troop,” Jaim replied, “but we’re already come several hours toward home. If we travel in Campaign Step we have a chance of outrunning this storm.”

Campaign Step was what the Legion used for covering large distances over flat ground. It was a quick-march step, just short of a run. It allowed troopers to cover a lot of distance at a pace they could maintain for hours. It was part of basic Legion training and it was widely used in the plains of the Central Empire but rarely outside of that.

“Campaign Step, sir?” said Tomaro, frowning. “In this heat? That’ll be hard going. Very rough on the men. Not only that but we’ll be moving too fast to watch the land. I don’t fancy running into another Dreadbeast. Sir.”

“I imagine that if there are any more, they’ll be taking cover from this storm as well,” Jaim shot a questioning glance at Whisper, who nodded agreement. “Even if they’re not, it’s a chance we’ll have to take. That’s a dust storm coming in gentlemen, and the Scout Commander assures me it’s a deadly one. I know a few of you have done duty in the Nihami deserts, you’ve seen the damage sand storms can do.” He looked back over his shoulder at the swelling brown wall closing on them. “That thing is coming straight out of Dreadland and it’s the biggest damn storm I’ve ever seen. We do not want to be caught outside First Hold when it hits.”

There were no more objections. Enough of them had seen sand storms to know the danger and even those who hadn’t had heard the tales. They all looked at the approaching storm and steeled themselves for the forced march ahead. Anything that came out of Dreadland was deadly. Every last one of them knew the truth of that and they tightened their packs, pulling Browncloaks tight about them and raising hoods against the flying dust that would be hot on their trail. They fell into standard two by two Legion march formation and Jaim set Tomaro at point, himself and Whisper bringing up the rear. When they were ready, Tomaro looked back toward Jaim, awaiting the Lord Captain’s order.

“Call the cadence, Fist Commander! Let’s move them out!”

“Patrol!” Tomaro’s voice boomed across the Fringe. “Campaign Step . . . move out!”

The patrol moved into quick step, followed by double time and within twenty paces they were in full Campaign Step. Jaim was pleased to see his men were in perfect lockstep, even at this speed. It was a minor concern at the moment but he was glad to see they held discipline. Tomaro’s thundering bass voice rolled out ahead of them as he sang out cadence for the men to keep time. The rhythm was quick and the words simple; a soldier’s tune that Jaim had learned in his first days as a trooper. He couldn’t keep a smile from his face as the men began to sing along.

“Left my mama, left my farm . . .” sang out Tomaro.

“Left my mama, left my farm!” the patrol called out in response, echoing each line the Fist Commander sang.

Left my girl in the old wheat barn . . .
Left my pa and all my kin . . .
Don’t think I’ll ever go back again . . .
Taught me to fight and break some bones . . .
Taught me the Legion was my home . . .
Gave me a sword, and got me a shield . . .
I’ll fight till I die, cause the Legion don’t yield . . .

The song had been a staple of the Legion for time out of mind, maybe back as far as the Empire had been around. Jaim imagined the first troopers had done Campaign Step to the same cadence and he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the words hadn’t changed much either. The life of a soldier was the same no matter what age, or what army, they came from. They were the poor, the desperate, the younger sons of the common folk, with no prospect of inheritance nor any means of procuring a decent education. The Legion gave them a place and a calling. It gave them purpose and it gave them a home. It called men of similar attitudes and station from all across the Empire, throwing them together in deadly situations and forged from them the most powerful military force that the world had ever known. Together, they were the Legion. Together, they could accomplish anything.

Together, they were a family.

A family, yes, and Jaim was the head of this particular branch of that family. It was his job to see these men safely back to First Hold. He’d already done enough damage, leading them to Dreadland when he should have known better. He kept pace with the men but Jaim didn’t sing out, he bent all his attention on scanning for anything that might present a danger to his Browncloaks. Two strides to his left, Whisper did the same, both of them holding the step, but with their heads constantly twisting this way and that. It became more difficult as they went, the hot winds rising at their back, blowing dust and debris in their faces. Jaim ordered all hoods drawn up, though he and the Scout Commander kept theirs down. The grit tossed about by the winds stung, reddening Jaim’s cheeks and making him squint his eyes tightly to see but he couldn’t afford to lose his peripheral vision beneath a hood right now.


Whisper had to raise his voice to be heard above the shrieking wind and the rhythmic chanting of the men. Jaim scanned the eastern horizon, catching the slight movement along the ridgeline of a small row of hills. The creature was large, not the size of a Shrika, but big enough to do damage to the patrol.

“What is it?”

Whisper shook his head, raising one hand to block swirling dust from his eyes. “Too far, Lord Cap’n. It moves away from us . . . seeks shelter from storm.”

That was a mixed blessing. Jaim was glad the creature was moving off but that meant the storm bearing down on them was going to be a true bitch. Dreadbeasts did not veer away from prey, ever. He’d learned that much during his time in the Fringe. If that beast was willing to forego easy prey in favor of shelter it meant the storm was going to be even worse than Jaim feared. He looked for landmarks as they went, trying to judge how far they’d come and how far they still had to go. It was difficult with the wind blowing so much dirt into the air but he recognized a blackstone pillar standing a few dozen paces off to his right. That put them about . . . two hours out from the Dreadgate. Damn! He glanced back over his shoulder, cursing once more when he saw the massive wall of heaving brown death that was bearing down on them. They’d been at Campaign Step for the better part of an hour now and the storm had closed the distance between them by a good bit more than half. It would be on them in less than an hour now. There was no way they were going to outrun it. The best they could hope for was to stay on its leading edge until they got inside the Hold.

Tomaro fell out of point, trotting back to Jaim’s position and falling into step beside him. One of the other men had taken up the cadence, though it was hard to hear the singing over the wailing of the wind.

“We ain’t outrunning that storm, Lord Captain!” The words were half shouted but pitched low enough so they wouldn’t carry to the men. “Maybe we ought to look for shelter of some kind!”

As if to underline the Fist Commander’s words, a stray gust of wind whirled about them, filling Jaim’s mouth with grit and small stones as he opened it to reply. He broke off in a fit of coughing, trying to clear the debris from his throat.

“In the Fringe? There’s nothing out here to protect us from that.” He gestured over his shoulder with one thumb. “That storm’ll eat through stone! If we get caught in the eye of it we don’t stand a chance. We need to outrun it. We’ve got an hour –maybe- before it’s on us. Once it starts biting out heels, we’re going to break cadence and make a flat out run for it. Let your men know, Commander. When I give the order, I want them running for their lives! Every man for himself; if anyone falls behind we won’t be waiting for them, understand?”

“Aye, Lord Captain!”

Tomaro moved forward again, stopping at each pair of men to pass the word. The singing died out as the men looked back at what was coming for them and they began to worry about conserving their wind for the race to come. Jaim finally raised his hood, gesturing for Whisper to do the same. The visibility was so poor now they couldn’t see far enough out to give any type of meaningful warning to the patrol anyway. No point in losing their eyes to some stray bit of rubble if they could help it. Jaim moved over so he was trotting shoulder to shoulder with his Scout Commander.

“Suggestions?” he asked, hoping that Whisper’s greater experience in these wastes might provide some additional insight.

“Run,” he replied simply.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Early Monday

How can you tell when your Monday is gonna be real bad?

When it starts kicking your ass on sunday night! Oh, I kid you not! Today I was supposed to be heading out to a training facility where I've set up an extensive program for my company. I'm not teaching, just overseeing this one, and for some reason I could not remember what exit I needed to get off to get there. So, about 11:30 last night (whilst on my way to bed!) I hopped quickly onto the internet and grabbed the directions. No problem. Now don't ask why, but I decided to check my work e-mail while I was online. What the hell was I thinking???? Like there's anything important that might be waiting for me at 11:30 on a Sunday evening, right?

Oh, was I wrong!

The trainer for the seminar ate some bad chinese food or something (damn cats!) and is hurling out of every orifice in his body (nice visual, eh?) No way he can make the seminar, he has to cancel and I (lucky bastard that I am!) now have the responsibility of notifying the dozen or so attendees (who are supposed to BE THERE by 8:00 a.m.) that the whole thing is a no-go. So I started my day today by crawling out of bed at 5:00 a.m. so I could shower, shave, dress, etc. and be in the office before 6:00 a.m. so that I could (hopefully!) call all these poor folks and let them know not to drive an hour or so out of their way for a non-existent seminar. Of course, the company directories had no cell numbers for any of them and I had to go nuts scrambling through our records to get home phone numbers. Oh man, did I make a lot of families happy by calling their home at quarter after six in the a.m.!!!!!!

And that was just the start of my day. It's been a typical Monday, aggravated by the fact that I'm tired, have a sore back, and a vile case of heartburn. Fun fun fun!

Well, at least I managed to finish up my read through and note taking on "First" over lunch today. I now have 10 pages of items that I need to map, flesh out, detail, and/or answer questions about. I actually think that'll be fun for once. Wish me luck, huh?

I'm too tired for a longer post. In case you haven't noticed, I'm NOT an early morning person. I think anyone who willingly wakes up before 10:00 a.m. is secretly plotting the overthrow of the world and should be executed immediately! Of course, I also get a little cranky when I'm tired so feel free to ignore that last . . .


Friday, June 09, 2006

Just Rambling

It's late on a Friday afternoon and my ass is draggin' today. The week has been non-stop at work: nothing too stressful, just a lot of crap that had to be done. I did have some time last night to do some more work on the worldbuilding for "First" (woo-hoo!) Not a whole lot but it's better than nothing. I don't know if it's because Summer's on the way or what but I just can't seem to find the time and/or motivation to get anything substantial done. (sorry, I know how boring it is to read a blog about someone NOT writing!)

I was thinking about "First" as I was driving out to one of our regional offices yesterday (hence the reason for no post!) I really like this book. It has a solid feel to it, ya' know? Sure, there's a lot of work still to be done but I already have the next book in this series churning away in my head and I'm setting up a lot of the events yet to come in this work. I am (of course!) worried that doing a multi-book epic fantasy mya not be easy to sell without a previous track record but what can ya' do? It's the work that's pulling at me right now. I do still have "Fish" to edit and that's a stand-alone, so maybe if I can get that done and in the mail, I might get it published and then selling "First" would go easier, no? (how's that for optimism!) I have "Fish" all printed out, in it's three-ring binder, with all the notes, etc. I've done for it so far in place, I just have to get down to doing it. Work has bee nchewing up all my lunch hours and weekends still belong to the house (or family things) while the nights seem to be taken up with shopping, (for the house!) running about for Scouts, or just crashing on the handful of nights I have free.

I also have to worry about my health now. (well, I SHOULD have worried about it earlier but I didn't!) Weight loss and exercise are going to have to take a priority. I need to get the cholesterol way down and weight loss will (no doubt) make a big difference in my energy levels. Kind of a nasty cycle though: I feel too tired to get started on a program, which is the only way I'm gonna increase my energy level, but I'm too tired to get started . . . and on ad infinitum.

Funny in a masochistic sort of way. Anyway, I'm out. Good weekend to all, chat you up on Mon-frikkin-day.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mr. Coppinger Goes To Washington

Howdy folks!

Oh man, did I ever have a good weekend! Took the boys to D.C. and it was amazing. Took a tour of the Capitol, walked Arlington, saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier (if you have never seen this, make plans to do so!) Said a prayer at the Kennedy graves. We stopped at the USMC Monument (flag-raising at Iwo Jima) and we were lucky enough to have a veteran of Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima there to tell the boys the story behind it. He was a remarkable gentleman and the boys were fascinated. What was supposed to be a 10 minute talk turned into a 1-1/2 hours.

After that, we walked The Mall; stopping at the Lincoln Memorial (breathtaking), the Vietnam Wall (heartbreaking - a family was there laying flowers beneath a loved ones name) the Korean War memorial (beautiful) and the new WWII Memorial. That was another highpoint. We had a tour guide who was going off duty but when he saw a troop of Boy Scouts (every one in full Class-A uniform!) he came over and asked if we'd like a tour anyway. We spent the next two hours with one of the most remarkable story-tellers I have ever met. the man was brilliant and the boys loved every minute of it.

The high point of the weekend came when we stopped at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on the way home. I saw something there that I can't even really describe to you, but I'll try.

Boys of this age (12-18) are forever losing things. It's become a running joke in our Troop that if an adult finds an item that a boy leaves behind, we make him sing a song for everyone in order to get it back. (usually: "I'm a little Teapot", or something equally silly) Well, we had a boy who lost a small item and because we were in D.C., the adult leader who found it asked him to sing "The Star Spangled Banner". Well, you could have heard a pin drop when the boy said: "What's that? I don't know that song." Needless to say, his mission for the weekend was to learn the song, so he could get his item back. Just as a way to tease him for not knowing the song, we told him he'd have to stand on one of the walls at the Fort and sing it for us. Well, he learned the song from the other Scouts and after we'd completed our tour of the Fort (with another amazing guide!)we told him to go ahead and sing. Laughing and slightly embarrased, he stepped up on the outer rampart and began the first verse in a squawking, stuttering, mumble.

What happened next was one of the most dramatic and touching things I've ever seen in my life.

With no word from any adult, and without any type of discussion, every single one of our boys climbed up onto that rampart beside their friend and began to sing with him. In moments, the entire Troop of thirty-odd boys was singing loud and clear; proudly belting out our National Anthem atop the very walls that had inspired it. The entire Fort came to a stop. Visitors, workers, volunteers . . . everyone there stopped to listen and when they had finished, to give them a standing ovation. Every adult leader in our Troop (myself included!) had tears in their eyes. It was the type of moment that you never expect to see anywhere in real life: it belonged on a movie screen. And you wanna know what the true beauty of it was?

The boys had no idea they'd done anything out of the ordinary!

They were truly shocked by the response they got to their song. When I spoke to them afterward, they all said essentially the same thing: they saw their friend up there alone -and nervous- and just wanted to help him out. Besides, they figured if they were gonna sing that song anywhere, this was the place . . .

How's that for simple courage and decency? Folks, if you've ever had any fear about the type of future leaders this Nation will have: set them aside! I've seen what the leaders of tomorrow look like and I'll sleep easy knowing there are still kids like this out there.

Damn, it was a great weekend!


Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Case of the Crazies!

What a crazy frikkin' morning!

Our IT guys did an archive of our primary database last night and I got in this a.m. only to discover that somehow, the archiving had actually DELETED the drawing data for all our projects! OMFG! The place went nuts and everyone ran about like it was the end of the world. I got into the database, restored it to a previous backup, and we were back to work in less than an hour but you'd have thought we were down for a month the way people reacted. Folks need to chill, yo! Go get a cup of coffee and a bagel, answer your e-mails and clean out your Deleted Items folder. That's an hour right there!

Anyway, I'm out of here early today. I'm camping with the Scouts this weekend (so no posts until next Crapday!) We're hitting D.C. to do the whole patriotic tour thing; it should be a very cool weekend. We're doing lots of walking but the boys and the adults who regularly camp should have no problems. We are taking a half-dozen or so parents who never camp with us so it should be interesting to see them doing the 10 mile Arlington Cemetery Hike (okay, so I'm evil!) The kicker is going to be the ladies going: we've warned them to wear sneakers and shorts, etc. but I'm betting at least one of them wears clogs or some other silly woman-type shoes because: "They match my outfit!" That will be ugly for them (and -of course- entertaining for me!)

Have someone coming in to refinish my hardwood floors this weekend in my Living Room and the following weekend, all out new furniture starts arriving. The house actually is getting close to being done (though it sure as hell still seems like a ton of crap to be done!) Once it is, I will have much free time to focus on writing. (I hope!)

I'm still working on the worldbuilding notes for "First". I've gone through the first 130 or so pages of the novel and I've got about six pages of notes on items to be fleshed out, mapped, or simply explained so that I know what the hell is actually going on. It's funny as hell actually: I keep hitting things that fascinate me and I don't know where they came from! For example, I found out that you can quickly tell the status of any person in one of my cultures by the number of ribbons they wear braided into their belt. Some old folks only have one or two, while some young women can have dozens and no one outside their culture understands why (including me, and I wrote the damn thing!) If anyone asks, they are dreadfully insulted and will refuse to speak to that person ever again. I imagine I should probably know why that is, even if I never explain it in the book. I have dozens of little oddities like this that just showed up while I was writing. Weird, huh?

Anyway, I'm still plugging away at it with the limited spare time I have and for once, I'm actually enjoying the worldbuilding process. Everyone I've read says this is the back-asswards way to approach things, but it seems to be working for me (no real surprise there, eh?)

Ah well, need to get some stuff done. Have a great weekend, all!