Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Things Congress Should Be Doing:

I'm going to be oddly topical today. Congress is dealing with two "major" issues at present: a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman (i.e. outlaw gay marriage federally) and legally ban flag burning. While I realize that these are the top concerns of 3% of the population (according to a survey cited on the Al Franken radio show - take it for what it's worth), I have a few other issues which might be more relevant:

  • Tax glamour- (Paris Hilton) and power-mad (that Kennedy rapist cousin) millionaire heirs and heiresses, so that I'm not still paying for the damn Iraq War when I'm 90 years old.
  • Catch Osama Bin Laden - seriously, people, he's a 6 foot tall man on dialysis who gets more airtime than Anna Nicole Smith, how hard can this be?
  • Tell the Pentagon to put the Geneva Convention rules back in the Military Field Manual - if you hadn't heard of this one, it's true: the new version of the Military Field Manual will not include the Geneva Convention provisions against mistreating and humiliating detained prisoners.
  • Actually debate the FAIR Tax, and see what happens. I'm extremely undecided on it, but it's an actual issue which has a bearing on everyone's daily life, which would be a nice change of pace for Congress to deal with.
  • Look into the President's rampant use of the "signing statement" - these are (figuratively) little executive post-its that he can stick on bills saying that he interprets them a certain way. He has used them on roughly 10% of the bills he's signed into law, which is more than all previous American Presidents put together, something which is now coming to the attention of the American Bar Association.
  • Deal with steroid use in baseball - I'm guessing more Americans care about this than gay marriage or flag burning put together.
  • Didn't someone important in the government say something about going to Mars at some point? Maybe you guys should look into that.
  • Four words: Leave no child behind
  • Cure something! I don't care if it's cancer, HIV, or halitosis, but this would be a better use of your time.
  • Annex Mexico and be done with it! Then we can burn their flags, to get it out of our system.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Well, it's been three months since my last update, so I guess it's about time for a new one, and boy is there a lot of material to cover:

February was crazy, with me getting a cold that lasted nearly two weeks. In addition, my washing machine went haywire and flooded my basement. As such, very little writing got done in February. In addition, I had to spend a week in Sacramento, California, for work. Here are the stats on story submissions for February:
  • Four stories submitted
  • Six stories rejected
March was a recovery month, as I tried to catch up on the various things I'd let slide during February. I had a hand surgery and I sprained my ankle, including an awkward step a week later that caused a re-strain. In addition, a number of work deadlines began to bombard me, so I got very little writing work done. The March stats are:
  • Eight stories submitted
  • Four stories rejected
  • Notified that I had been selected as a candidate for the position of About.com Physics Guide
April, however, was something of a recovery period for me. I began work on the About.com Physics site and got accepted, which focused my attention on writing yet again. I also began to work heavily on "Poor Richard's Fire" and finished it in time to submit it to an alternate history themed magazine just under the deadline. April's stats are much more impressive:
  • Training and acceptance as the About.com Physics Guide
  • Extensive work on the About.com Physics Guidesite
  • Five stories submitted
  • Seven stories rejected
  • Two previously-accepted stories released to find a new market, due to publication difficulties
  • I received word that there would be no finalists in the Writers of the Future anthology for 2005, which means that my story "Salvage" will not be included and is free to be shopped around to new markets.
  • Completed "Poor Richard's Fire," with a total of approximately 7,500 words. I was startlingly impressed by the quality of this piece, as I was really worried about getting the colonial language right, and I think I did a very fair job at it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I'm going to go for a bit more ambitious goals this month.
  • Complete "final" draft of "Diminished Capacity" and submit it
  • Complete "final" draft of "The Hero's Widow" and submit it
  • Complete second draft of "Frozen in a Memory" and get to some health care, psychologist, and neurologist friends of mine for feedback on the science of it.
  • Write first draft of "Poor Richard's Fire"
  • Refresh memory on current status of my halted novel Soulless and write at least 5,000 more words on it.
  • Write an article for EpicSFF.com
  • Review 2 books for FantasyBookSpot.com

"NASAR One Billion" revised and submitted (3,000 words)
"The Hero's Widow" first draft written (7,500 words)
"Frozen in a Dream" first draft written (10,200 words)
FantasyBookSpot.com reviews of Tong Lashing and Finding Serenity
"A Time Before History" article at EpicSFF.com

Total January submissions: 7
Total January rejections: 2
(also Beyond the Mundane anthology cancelled, so not really a rejection)
Total January acceptances: 1
(Black Gate article, submitted in Dec. 05)
Total outstanding submissions: 14
(as of end of the month)

I've been extremely pleased with this month. I didn't get "Diminished Capacity" completely revised, but that's partly because I have a couple of colleagues reading it who haven't gotten their comments to me. Another change from my goals was that I worked on "Frozen in a Memory" instead of "Poor Richard's Fire" this month, though I exceeded goals in finishing it instead of merely beginning it. This is an auspicious start to 2006, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Today saw the writing of 2,900 words (2,458 by Microsoft Word count) in "Frozen in a Memory" (previously referenced as "Frozen in a Dream," but titles are fickle things). Total so far is roughly 4,960 words (4,168 by Microsoft Word count) and the story has reached its turning point, where it begins careening downhill like a runaway train . . . hopefully in a good way. We'll see tomorrow.

I also completed the revisions on my 3,000 word story for the upcoming Houston, We Have Bubbas anthology. The Bubbas stories are always entertaining, and I had fun with this one. I was even more shocked because the basic theme of the story was related to the cover story in this month's Popular Science magazine! The story was completely done before I got the issue, so imagine my surprise. I suppose that means I'm timely or something. Anyway, this story will be heading out to the fine editors at Yard Dog Press on Monday.

Finally, I got around to writing two reviews for FantasyBookSpot.com. I reviewed Peter David's Tong Lashing, which was loads of fun, and also Finding Serenity, a collection of essays about the tragically defunct television show Firefly.

In between all of this, I watched two films that I picked up on DVD from the library. One was Tom Selleck's intriguing portrayal of Eisenhower in Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The other was Under a Tuscan Sun . . . which had Diane Lane, making it worth watching.

Last week, incidentally, I watched Inventing the Abbotts, a film which features Jennifer Connelly with upper body nudity. This was, I felt, the only thing remarkable about that film, and certainly my only cause to recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The third day was a lot less productive than the two earlier days. Specifically, I got no writing done. I did, however, get some housework accomplished. Laundry is now clean. Yippee!

I also got halfway through Tong Lashing. Very amusing book. I'm looking forward to reviewing it for FantasyBookSpot.com.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


The weekend continues and I keep performing up to, and perhaps a bit beyond, my expectations.

  • Finished reading Mammoth and wrote a review for FantasyBookSpot.com, only to discover that it had already been reviewed. Kind of disappointing, although the book itself was quite enjoyable. Silly me, I'll have to keep closer tabs next time. Unfortunately, when I realized the review had already been written, I closed the file without saving it. I could have tried to shop it around a bit. Alas, my absent-mindedness strikes again.
  • Researched Alzheimer Disease and dementia for my next SF story, "Frozen in a Dream." This included reading two chapters of Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars. Very well written book, full of intriguing case studies. Some of it was familiar, in concept, from my college course in Abnormal Psychology. The chapter "The Last Hippie" pertains to a man who cannot create new long term memories and constantly lives in the late sixties. "The Landscape of His Dreams" deals with an artist who is obsessed with the Italian village of his youth, and can only come to terms with the obsession through his artwork. Both have profoundly impacted the direction I'm going in "Frozen in a Dream."
  • Began writing on "Frozen in a Dream." Wrote the first two scenes, which come out to a bit over 4 pages - 1,970 words (Microsoft Word count 1,698 words).
  • I decided to delay work on "Poor Richard's Fire" while I do more research. I have the concept, but not an actual plot yet. I will begin it in February, as I hope to submit it in April. Sometimes I start without a clear idea of the end, but the plot somehow works itself out of the characters and the setting. Still, with a short story, it's vastly preferable to know exactly what your target is if you're going to retain the necessary brevity.
  • Began reading Tong Lashing: Sir Apropos of Nothing Book 3 by Peter David. The first one was hilarious; the second one entertaining. Hopefully this one will provide an upward trend. It contains a territory called the Wata' Waste and the Ho Clan, with their leader, Skang Kei Ho. How can you go wrong with elements like that?

Saturday, January 14, 2006


In an effort to force myself to get work done this weekend, I'll be documenting my activities. Day one has proven to be relatively productive.

In addition to getting some laundry done, I've also done a fairly comprehensive update of my webpage. I'm going to try to do this from now on as soon as some new material, either an article, story, or review, becomes available. This is, of course, in addition to my attempts to keep the blog more frequently updated.

I finished the first draft of "Hero's Widow." It comes in at a whopping 8,700 words (Microsoft Word count of 7,575 words), which is significantly more than I was expecting. Of that, 4,050 words (Microsoft Word count of 3,525 words) were written today, from about 2:00 to 7:00 pm. It includes a very moving finale, I think, and one of the most vivid action sequences that I think I've ever written. Now it will sit in a folder for a few weeks, so I can revise it with a bit of distance. I'll probably get back to it in February, and hopefully will be able to reduce it a bit. If not, there is a market that's specifically looking for stories of roughly this length, although I'm not sure if it's "epic" enough for that anthology. It was conceived as sort of an "anti-epic fantasy," about the people who are not the great adventurers of the realm. But, honestly, I'm not sure how much I can take out of it.

The remainder of tonight (it's only 7:00 pm, after all) will be devoted to reading John Varley's Mammoth. If I have enough time, I'll also write the review of it tonight, post it to FantasyBookSpot.com, and update my website with a link. The review might be a bit ambitious, though, since I still have half the book to read, but it has been going at a good clip when I've actually gotten a chance to read it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


The past year has been mad crazy, but there are some intriguing, nice things about it, with respect to my writing prospects.
And what, you may ask, is upcoming in 2006? Well, much is unknown, but here's what I'm currently planning:
  • My superhero story, "Sibling Enmity," has been accepted to Cyber-Age Adventures print magazine.
  • My apocalyptic tale, "Even Odds," has been accepted to the Revelations anthology.
  • Currently have good prospects on a gaming article with Black Gate magazine.
  • Ongoing writing for EpicSFF.com and FantasyBookSpot.com
  • Dedicate myself to writing 1,000 words a day toward something publishable (i.e. the blog doesn't count).

I will attempt to be more consistent in posting, and will in fact record statistics related to my writing on a monthly basis, along with projections of what I hope to do the upcoming month. That's the plan, at least.

January goals:

  • Complete revisions of "NASAR One Billion" and submit to the Houston, We Have Bubbas anthology.
  • Complete revisions of "Diminished Capacity" and submit to a market (probably Writers of the Future).
  • Complete first draft of "The Hero's Widow"
  • Begin first draft of "Poor Richard's Fire"
  • Review 2 books for FantasyBookSpot.com
  • Write an article for EpicSFF.com