Monday, November 29, 2010

Salvation is Bright Yellow


It's coming.

Only a few more hours and it will be here in all it's lemony colored glory. The School Bus! The wonderful, wonderful School Bus! My mornings haven't been the same without it. They've been...noisier...and full of children. But now the school bus will return, and whisk the children away to the hallowed halls of education so that they will no longer tempt Dad to join the ranks of famous Axe Murderers, but may instead achieve greatness, and help their father retire to the reward he so richly deserves.


 But this hard earned happy ending will have to wait until much later in the future. For now, I will simply settle for this...


This will be good enough. A peaceful house that I can write, plan, work, market, or do whatever else needs doing with a civilized level of peace and quiet. This is what I have sorely missed. The ability to connect two thoughts in my head without a crash, scream, yell, wail, or howl of pain or fury to jump in and disconnect them again.

On another note, I also had a Writer's Night Out with Cherri Galbiati last night. I actually sat and talked with an adult. That's important because I wasn't sure I was going to remember how to have a conversation without breaking into shouts of "You better answer me by the time I count to three!" Sigh.

Oh well, we talked late and into the early hours of the morning. We both agreed that there comes a time you have to get back to writing and just leave the promoting behind for a while. It really interferes with my ability to write, as the mindset for promotion is completely different than the mindset for writing. At the moment, I'm easing back into a writing mindset myself. I'll still do some promotion here and there, but I intend to stop come the beginning of next year and focus totally on writing until I get some projects done.

Well, I hope everybody had a great weekend and didn't have any trees land on their houses.

Enjoy your Monday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Post


So, there is a tree laying on my house.

I guess this is going to interfere with my grand plan to hang Christmas lights. Or not. Maybe I'll just string lights over the whole leafy mass and call it my outdoors display. I'm sure there are some design possibilities in there somewhere.

Anyways, it appears that most of it landed in the back yard so whatever damage there is could have been a whole lot worse. Now we'll just have to wait and hear from the insurance company to find out what the next step is. I'll also need to get into the back yard and see if there was any damage to the kids playground set. Then I'll suppose it will be placed on my Grand List of Messes That Need Cleaning Up. Sigh!

Now I just need to figure out what to do with this weekend. Renfest is a possibility, but I'll have to check the weather. Getting some much needed sleep is also on the agenda. At the same time, a little housework might be in order as well. After all, I have other things than fallen trees on my Grand List of Messes That Need Cleaning Up. I suppose I could also try to catch the raccoon. That would be nice.

Then Monday will come, and that magical yellow Chariot of Peace and Sanity will come to save me...

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Thankful A Tree Didn't Fall On My House...Oh wait..


It pretty much went down like this...





Yes, that's right. While we went over the hills and through the woods to Grandmothers house, the tree beside my driveway attacked my house. Of course, we were blissfully unaware of this act of arboreal treachery at the time.

Wednesday evening, my wife pulled the twisted wreckage that was me from my forced imprisonment with the two clutter spawning savages that had almost destroyed my psyche. She piled us all in the car and we headed for Bryan, Texas. Slowly, ever so slowly, I started to realize there was another adult in my vicinity to help absorb juvenile demands for attention and so I crept back to a semblance of humanity. After a suprisingly peaceful trip, we arrived at Grandmothers house and hit the bed.

It was very good.

And of course the next day was Thanksgiving. Now having enough adults around me to actually outnumber the kids, I could start to imagine things to be thankful for in the world again. I thought of a good list including health, family, and good friends. Unfortunately I didn't remember to be thankful that a tree hadn't fallen on my house, but what were the odds? Besides I was busy thinking about being grateful for all the turkey, cornbread dressing, rolls, beans, potato salad, and other stuff spread out in front of me.

It was all I could do just to remember to show restraint in the face of what amounted to a guilt free mountain of food.


Afterwards I watched the football games in what practically amounted to a carbohydrate coma. Fortunately the games were good (even if the wrong teams won) and kept me awake. The kids amused themselves with toys, puzzles, and occasionally being yelled at by adults to settle down and stop being loud. And the best part was I was only doing the yelling part of the time.

Anyways, I good time was had by all and we boarded the car again after the football games and made our way home. As we pulled into our dark driveway, my wife commented that it looked there had been some wind while we were gone as there was a branch on her car (which we left in the driveway while we were gone.) I was noticing that, then noticed that the canopy of the tree on the other side of  her car from us seemed to be hanging lower...a lot lower. As in it was laying on our backyard fence and our house.

We didn't see any damage to the house, although we noticed the fence had been messed up some. It was late though and visibility poor. So we shall have to wait until daybreak to assess the damages from this particular Thanksgiving adventure.

I wonder if it bothered the raccoon?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day Three: Rabid Feral Something Something Edition


Yes, I now enter Day Three of the Thanksgiving Week. The third full day of the domestic equivalent of being thrown into a pool of shrieking piranhas. I can even hear them in my dreams...Dad! Dad! Dad! But it's okay, because I have a loyal helpmate to see me through these difficult times, right? Right?

Well, not exactly.


So, there's that.

Then there is the matter that the raccoon has now managed to actually gain access to the cabinet above the microwave and forage among my cookie cutters. He hasn't actually stolen any yet, but he is having a high old time with them. The cabinet is now twist tied shut while our furry invader rocks and rolls above our stove. Karla and I have agreed that something must be done, but are still debating what to bait the trap with. Yeah, we're real motivated, aren't we. Meanwhile, the raccoon tries to decide what wallpaper to hang in his new pad.


So, there's also that.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel...and it is shaped like a big dead bird on a platter. That's right. For there will soon be turkey. Yes, turkey.  Turkey is going to fix this outrage that has been inflicted upon my delicate psyche. Turkey is going to make it all alright. For you see, turkey is loaded with tryptophan, and tryptophan helps you relax. And there will be dressing. And there will be other adults around too. So the kids will be outnumbered instead! Oh yes! YES! Soon, this evening in fact, I will load the kids into the car and it's off to Grandma's house we go!


So I'm about to sign off for a couple of days. I'll hope to post again sometime Friday, if I can.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Two: Children Bugaloo


I got nothin'. And I mean nothin'.

I don't have a single creative synapse left firing in my head. I don't have a single organized thought that would approach anything resembling a coherent paragraph that could be added to a story. I don't have one shred of focus left. All I've got is the hiss of background static running through my mind...

...and a twitch.

For you see, I watched children all day. Alllllllllll day. By myself. Because some goombah in the Texas School System seems to think that Thanksgiving should merit an entire week off.  But I've been over that.

And lets not even imagine what the house looks like right now. Oh no, we don't even want to go there. For there are two of them, and they are young and fast, and can mess up things at a speed that one single, slow adult can not even hope to keep up with. They are whizzing comets of chaos and I am the grand, slow gas giant of lost causes who hopes that all the clutter doesn't get caught in his gravitational pull and forms a ring around him as he shambles in a stately orbit through the house, clearing insignificant fractions of the deepening mess. Sigh.



Oh well, this too shall pass.

One more day and it's off to Grandma's house we go. Then it will be turkey, dressing, and a couple of other pairs of adult eyes to help with the kiddos. And there will even be a football game. Cool! The kids are at least smart enough to know that making Daddy crazy during the football game is verboten. Probably something to do with survival instinct. So there is that.

Anyways. we shall see if Tuesday goes a little better. Maybe I just need to catch a second wind and hit my stride. I do have a stride...I think. Sort of.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Truth Sinks In


Tomorrow is Monday.

Unlike the rest of the world, I find Monday to be one of the most glorious days of the week. For it is on Monday that the beautiful yellow school bus comes like an angelic chariot and whisks my children away to their date with education, thus leaving me with seven magnificent hours of child free peace. Seven wonderful, blissful hours.



But not this week.

Oh no, not this week. For this week they have the entire week off. The entire week. Not just Thursday and Friday like we used to when I was a kid and the world was sane. No, they get the entire week. Five days home alone with me. Five days demanding every second of attention available. Five entire days to insure that not only does Dad not get a single word written, but will probably go clinically insane.


Is this what I pay taxes for?

No it is not! The public school system has really let me down on this matter. The whole point of establishing a national public school system was so parents could send their little ones to the safety of a state sponsored education and out of the reach of adults trying to get something done. Seriously, an entire week for Thanksgiving? Look, I'm thankful...but not that thankful. If they wanted to get a whole week in their honor, the Pilgrims could have done something like inventing nachos, or football, or something other than just sitting around starving until Indians brought them corn.

 But this is my lot so I must endure. Needless to say, there will be no writing getting done this week. Perhaps that's for the best. Perhaps I should just surrender on the idea of writing and try to figure out something to do with the kids instead. It's only for a week...right?

At least until Christmas when it becomes TWO weeks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Megamind Review


Last week I reviewed the disaster that was Skyline, so I thought I would try my hand at movie reviews again. This time I had the seven year old in tow, so I decided to go see Megamind. It was a much, much better movie and I'm even giving it an extra star (although I don't use stars) just because it isn't Skyline.

The premise is fairly straightforward...two babies from alien planets are sent to earth to avoid their worlds destruction. One, is a virtual clone of Superman and lands in the home of wealthy parents where he is doted upon and grows up to be the great hero of Metro City. The other lands in a prison yard and is raised...differently. The two meet in school and the boy that becomes Metroman is the popular class favorite, while the juvenile Megamind finds his attempt to impress his classmates with his genius tend to end in disaster. Finally giving up, he decides to become a master criminal instead...and the rivalry is born.

The two have many great battles throughout the years, always ending with Megamind's plots being foiled and Megamind back in prison. The heroine, reporter Roxanne Ritchi, is always rescued and carried to safety by Metroman and everybody lives happily ever after...at least until the next showdown.

Then one day things turn out different.

Much to everyones amazement, including Megaminds, one of his plans actually works and Metroman is destroyed. Now the city is defenseless, and the evil mastermind takes over. The problem is that after an initial period of joyful plunder Megamind finds the thrill is gone. It's too easy, and none of it seems to matter anymore. (this is where the adults will pick up on the point that Megaminds whole existence, including his very identity as a supervillian, has been dictated by his rivalry with Metroman, and now his very world is starting to crumble without him.) So in an effort to get the old thrill back, he finds a piece of Metromans DNA and injects into somebody else in order to create another superhero rival. At the same time, he also finds himself masquerading as an ordinary human so he can date Roxanne Ritchi.

Needless to say, the attempt to create a new rival goes awry as the person he injects is a whole different personality than Metroman, and is actually a loser himself who ends up using Metromans powers to take out his frustrations with life on the city. Now it's up to Megamind to take on a new role and try to save the day.

Overall, the movie succeeds at pretty much everything it attempts. It managed to keep my hyperactive seven year old quiet and in his seat, while being enjoyable to me also. There is plenty of action and slapstick for the kids, and yet still enough satire and intelligence to appeal to the adults. The voice acting is spot on, and the little twist near the end alleviates the one moment that might have been a little too dark for some kids. On a side note, I found it interesting how both the supervillains were actually products of their obsession with somebody else.

If you have a kid, take them to see Megamind...but you don't need one to go see it if you want to. I give it two thumbs up...with an extra star thrown in for not being Skyline.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where's My Moonbase?!


Terry Pratchett once observed that inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.

Tonight I was thinking about how I had watched a man take a step off of his spacecraft and onto the surface of the moon. I was seven years old and that was over forty years ago. And I remember thinking that by the time I grew up they would have the first city on the moon, and I would be up there to see it. I even dreamed of being the captain of a moon ferry that would take people from one moonbase to another across the moons surface. I imagined giant telescopes built in the low lunar gravity and taking advantage of the lack of atmosphere to accomplish unprecedented astronomy. And I just knew I would be part of it.

Forty years ago.

I think it's safe to say that boy back then would have been mightily disappointed if he knew the way things were going to turn out. The future turned out to look a whole lot like the past, only with the ability to do more things on TV screens and with telephones. Not to mention the cars don't fly, nor even have those fins that made them look so cool anymore. I don't have a robot to do my housework, and it turns out half the nifty things invented to make my life easier over the past thirty years will probably give me a tumor. To be honest, in a lot of ways we have gone a whole lot of nowhere.

As a matter of fact, next year we retire the shuttle fleet. At that point the United States will effectively cease to have a manned space program. We can hitch rides with Russians up to the International Space Station, but that's it. Our astronauts will just be hitchhikers on other peoples spacecraft to other peoples Space Stations. That's where we are forty years later.

Somehow, somewhere in the past, the people who made those decisions lost the whole vision thing. And this is where it has left us. For a fraction of what TARP cost us, we could have funded every single project cancelled by NASA this century, including the manned moon missions. But we just don't have it in us anymore. I wonder if we will even be training astronauts in another ten years time? Or I wonder if in another forty years, the last of the people who watched a man step out onto the surface of the moon will be dying off in retirement homes around the country, being taken care of by people who could never understand the world they came from.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Home Upgrades


Well, I survived another night without getting bumped off by any vengeful raccoons. I know it's up there in the attic, biding it's time, so I'm looking for something to bait the trap with. I realize it's going to come down to me or it. The kids are two young to be of help in this battle, and the wife has designated most domestic problems to fall under the catagory of "Nates Problems." That leaves me with nothing but the cats for allies...and cats are only your allies when you are in the act of pouring their cat food into their bowl. One second before or after that act and you're on your own.

So it's Me vs. The Raccoon.

On another note, our new couches arrive today. After twelve years of friends, family, roommates, and finally orangutans masquerading as human children, our couches are decrepit shells of their former selves and it's time to send them to that big furniture warehouse in the sky. So Karla bought us some shiny new couches to grace our living room, and for the kids to admire at a safe distance. They will be allowed to sit on the wonderful new furniture once we are assured they can do so without causing stains, breakage, or strange smells...probably sometime after they return from college.

I got a little done on Argiope yesterday. Actually quite a bit, but it was all in the form of rewriting so it didn't really go towards improving my word count...just the story. Still trying to figure out how to ease into that romance angle. Lately the story has been at the stage where the protagonist is totally smitten by this girl but thinks she is both unavailable and out of his league. Now he has just discovered that he has completely misunderstood the relationship between her and another man. But there is still the whole "out of his league problem." We'll see.

Oh well, the weekend is upon us. Enjoy your Fridays!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Late Start



Sorry Folks. I had a hard time climbing out of bed this morning, then had to rush to get the kids out the door. After that I stared stupidly at the internet for almost forty minutes before I realized that I run a blog. Then I took another minute for my sleep stupified mind to remember what a blog actually was before I could head this way and start typing (probably incoherently) in the "make new post" box. So there's that.

It's Thursday...a day who's only function in life is to separate humpday from the glorious anticipation of weekends that comprise Friday. It's only saving grace is that it's not Tuesday, which is even further away from Friday. It may be nowhere as days go, but at least it's nowhere with proximity to something better. (See the garbage I write when I'm late and catching up?)

I've shelved the Frontier Days story for a little while and jumped over and reworked part of Argiope instead. Now that I ripped out and rewrote the last four pages of Argiope, I feel a little freer to go forward. I had sort of written myself into a literary mudpuddle and was spinning my wheels.

I heard the raccoon playing with the light socket above my bed again last night. I think it's decided to drop the entire contraption on my head while I sleep in revenge over the cookie cutters. I'm gonna have to catch it first or start sleeping under the bed. Sigh.

The boy's hearing aid has stopped working again. This is the third or fourth time since school started. We keep taking it in, waiting for two weeks, then getting it back...only to repeat the process in another couple of weeks. It would be nice if we got a note back with the thing stating what was actually going wrong with it. My guess is that it has something to do with being attached to a hyperactive seven year old. But that's just my unprofessional opinion.

Okay, that's about as coherent as I get on short notice.

Bye.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeling It


Sometimes I'm inspired. Sometimes I just put together an idea and assemble the story. Sometimes I just write and see where the thing goes. But whichever way I'm approaching a story, I have to feel it once I'm in it or it doesn't work. If I'm not feeling it, then I need to back up and try something else.

For instance, when I wrote The Barrow Wolf I was "in" that silent forest Caleb walked through before encountering Perisa. I could feel the autumn air, and the hush only occasionally disturbed by all the crows up in the branches ruffling their feathers. And later I was seeing the Barrow wolf stalking through the shadows of the megaliths, his eyes flashing in and out of existence as he moved from shadow, to moonlight, then back again. And by "being there," I could help put the reader there as well.

But sometimes that just refuses to happen

That's where I am with my Frontier Days story. I wrote several pages before having to stop and accept that it just wasn't working. I wasn't seeing it. I wasn't feeling it. So I need to rethink it. It's not always a lost cause when that happens. I had it happen with "Under a Racer's Moon," (a short story in an upcoming LL Dreamspell anthology) and I backed up and wrote it from an entirely different point of view...resulting in one of my favorite short stories. So all is not lost. The idea of Frontier Days is sound, it just needs me to back up and approach it from an angle that I can get into.

On another front, I haven't seen the raccoon again but I'm sure he's up there in the attic plotting vengeance for my thwarting his attempted theft of my cookie cutters. Sigh. Why can't I have a normal house like everybody else?

It's Wednesday, so I'll do a little promoting on the internet then get ready to take Rowan to her therapy. Another brutal two hours at Starbucks. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Might sort a basket of laundry too, just to stay caught up. That would be nice. Staying caught up. I hear other people do it. I'll have to explore that theory someday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Morning Dreck

Well, I got inspired yesterday and whipped out a few pages of a new story. Now I'm about to tear it all up and start over. The story idea is solid, but the beginning I wrote out so far just isn't going to work. That's the way it goes sometimes. Now I'm going to approach the idea a little more slowly and plot out where I intend to go with it.

That's the danger of seat of your pants writing. While it usually turns out well for me, there are times characters and events simply take off in a direction that isn't going to work. And it usually takes several pages of writing before you realize you are heading into a dead end, or writing a story with a completely different tone than the one you intended. Sometimes characters want to put in an unnecessary subplot that doesn't further the story in any way. You have to give them some leeway, to see where they want to go, but there comes a time when you have to pull in the reins and yell "Woah! This ain't working!"

Then you start over.

On another note, I'm now wrestling raccoons in my kitchen. I heard something moving around in a cabinet above my stove, and thought maybe we had a mouse. I opened the cabinet...and it wasn't a mouse. There were two furry arms sticking down the crack between the stove vent and the top of the cabinet. They had grabbed the plastic bag I had put my copper cookie cutters in, and were trying to pull it through the small opening. I grabbed the bag, and the little bugger didn't want to let go. After a brief tug of war, I did get my cookie cutters back, and the furry bandit scuttled off after swearing vengeance.

Yeah, I live in a zoo. And that's not even counting the kids.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dreamspell Nightmares Now Available.


Dreamspell Nightmares is now available at Amazon.com. It is published by LL Dreamspell and is $4.79 on the kindle, and $16.95 for a trade paperback. It contains the first short story I ever wrote, titled Designated Driver, and another that I wrote a few months later called Picking Dewberries. It's interesting to see how much my style evolved just between those two stories.

Anyways, Designated Driver is the story of man driving on a lonely highway late at night and finds a wrecked vehicle. A short time later he picks up a strangely silent individual on the side of the road, and drives off in search of help. It isn't long before he realizes that things are not what they should be, and that his trip has just taken a sharp left turn into a very bad place.

Picking Dewberries is the tale of a little family outing as Karin Sellars and her husband and son stop on an obscure dirt road in the back country of south central Texas to pick dewberries. Pretty soon Karin realizes that her husband is missing, and there is a surprising threat from a childhood menace hanging in the trees on the roadside. Now the question is whether or not she can prevent anything else from being on the menu other than dewberries.

Picking Dewberries is also the inspiration for the novel I'm currently working on, and is the temporary prologue until I can go back in and replace it.

Anyways, that's my big announcement for today...other than that I also got into a tug of war with a raccoon over a bag of cookie cutters in my kitchen. But I'll save that for tomorrow's post.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Short

Not a lot to add today, just a few thoughts and musings.

I did a review of Skyline yesterday, and even in hindsight I don't think I was being too harsh. It really was a dumb movie. And after checking Rotten Tomatos, it appears the vast majority of critics out there agree with me.

BUT...

But, it was a dumb movie with a very good trailer..I'm going to check over the next couple of days just to see how the movie does. I wonder if it will do well, and how much that good trailer had to do with it. That would be depressing but educational. It would be living proof of marketing over quality. Oh well, we shall see.

On another front, In light of my recent posts on bad guys and how maybe I should start with them, I decided to start making a list of antagonists. At the moment, I wanted ghosts for another Shades story so my antogonists reflect that. So far the list is short because I slept in and then had to make that aforementioned chili. Anyways, so far the list includes....


Antagonists

1.      A suitor murdered by a jealous competitor returns on the couples tenth anniversary to seek vengeance.
2.      A river pirate murdered and buried with the treasure of his depredations is not in a mood to share when it is found by others.
3.      A hatchet murderess from a previous century returns to retrieve an item stolen from her museum of a house  by a couple of young teens.
4.      A member of a western show finds his next scheduled gunfight is with the outlaw he has been portraying for the past ten years.

It ain't much, but it's a beginning

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skyline Review


Have you ever been to one of those movies that you actually felt dumber for watching? Yes? Then let me warn you right now...Skyline is one of those movies.

Yes, I'm talking about the movie with the cool trailer showing people getting sucked up into the sky by alien spacecraft. And you're not going to believe why they're doing that. Usually, I hate giving spoilers but this premise is so unbelievably dumb that I'm going to do it anyways. They are kidnapping people so they can eat/steal their brains.

That's right.

Instead of zombies shambling around hunting nourishment from human nervous systems, we have alien invaders in vast intersteller spacecraft who have crossed the great gulfs of space to eat our brains. And on top of that they decided to set the story of these starhopping brain munchers in Los Angelos. Talk about a poor buffet selection. So, right off the bat the movie has an enormous strike against it because it's very premise is astoundingly stupid.

But the dumbness doesn't stop there. For some reason if you look long enough into the aliens little people attractor light, but don't get taken, it gives you super strength to help fight the aliens later. Yeah, thats a pretty glaring glitch to leave in your snaring device if your a super advanced race of brain eaters...or to put in in the first place. But that's okay, this movie is going to treat you to more stupidity than that.

Your going to see a dogfight between aliens and predator drones just so a B-1 bomber can get close enough to launch a nuke at a big alien ship. We've been able to hit targets halfway around the world for half a century,   but now must get within three hundred yards of our target. Yeah.

And don't even get me started on a cast of some of the most unlikeable characters going. It's not that you hate them, it's just that I have seen cheap horror hack  n slashes with bottom tier talent have characters that you at least were interested enough in to wonder how they were going to get it in the end. These guys? Not so much.

And believe me, the stupidity doesn't stop there. Physics and laws of thermodynamics are not only glossed over as they often are in recent scifis, but this movie hawks a big loogie and spits it right in their collective faces. Regenerating ships utilizing an energy curve and making material out of nothing on a scale that makes you wonder what these guys need anything for...much less brains from LA. And I won't even go into the conundrom of advanced space hopping aliens who then go hopping around a city like gigantic gorillas and expending ridiculous amounts of energy and resource to get those last tiny few brains out there.

Save your own brains, and skip this mess.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad Guys Can Be Good Starts


Maybe I need another bad guy.

Sometimes, when I'm casting around for ideas on another story to write, I've realized that I find success by starting with the bad guy. And I've discovered if I can build a good image of a bad guy/antagonist in my head, sometimes the story just flows from  there.

I've found the very nature and character of the antagonist can often influence both the style and mood of a story...and even within the same genres. Take the Shades series of ghost stories. The true evil of the murderous spirit of Priscilla Hatcher gives Death and White Satin a different mood than the understandably vengeful spirit of Charlotte March in Storm Chase(first story in Wind and Dark Waters). Both are objects of fear, both mean mayhem, and both would even have similarly ghastly appearances, but their different pasts and natures change the stories.

More mundane antagonists work the same way. In this newest short story I just finished, Alan Carpenter was jilted by his fiancĂ©e for his brother, Paul, twenty years earlier. Now Paul needs a kidney and Laura has come back to Alan for help. From there, the story just seemed to start writing itself. Alan's role is somewhat ambiguous, but he is the character who best qualifies as the antagonist by the end of the story and it is from him that the story is shaped. And it is his antagonism which drives the conflict of the story, and then almost preordains the ending itself.

It just seems to work better that way sometimes. I can come up with the protagonist and put him in a spot, but at times I really struggle to make the story go forward. If I come up with that antagonist first, the protagonist is often created automatically as a foil or victim for him, and the story is already underway. When I created the Barrow Wolf, Caleb simply appeared as the logical and necessary opponent for him. Even the creature's nature help dictate the issues which the protagonist wrestled with over the course of the story. It seems that a well thought out antagonist can add real depth to a story as well.

 Which brings up an interesting side point...my two most widely liked novelettes (The Barrow Wolf and Death And White Satin) were stories where I had created the bad guy first and let the story build around them. There aren't the complex issues in Death and White Satin that the creature creates in The Barrow Wolf, but the very history and nature of Priscilla Hatcher is what makes the presence on the other side of that door so threatening in the ghost story. She is as much a monster as any wolf, spectral or otherwise.

So let's hear it for the bad guys!

For they often make good stories.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Production


So I finished the first draft of that short story that I came up with the idea for last Thursday. It's a vicious little tale of jilted love and revenge...but heck, it's a story. I'll probably shelve it for now, and save it for a rainy day. Then every time I feel a little literary bile that needs venting, I'll just write another one and add to my nasty little story collection. Once I got four or five, I'll put them together and publish them.

The point is I actually wrote a story this month so something got done. Yay me! See what happens when I avoid Nanowrimo? I actually write stuff! Last year I just spent the entire month of November staring stupidly at the computer monitor. This year I'm on a roll.

I also did a load of laundry, sorted another basket of laundry, and did a few dishes. I'm starting to scare myself here. I better slow down or I'm going to sprain something...not to mention set a bad precedent. Maybe all this housework is what's causing the vicious bent in my muse. Hmmm...I'll have to watch that.

It also appears we have one more raccoon up in our attic. I caught two of them last summer, and thought the other two had moved away, but last night I heard one playing with the light fixture above my bed. I suppose I'll have to find some bait for that trap and see if they have forgotten about that thing. I haven't done any attic coon hunting in a while. I'll be sure and get pics if I catch one.

Oh well, Thursday is upon us and the week is almost over. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hump Day


Just got the kids on the bus, and watched it carry them down the street and to a world I really don't have a part in.

I don't feel it as much as when I first started putting them on it, but from time to time I still do. I watch them grow bigger, and see them come home and wonder how their days went. I ask and get the canned "Great, Dad" response and just sort of hope it's true. I know their grades are good for their respective classes, and just hope the rest is good for them as well.

Writing is going in fits and starts. I started to get on a roll yesterday, but then had to go pick up Rowan for her therapy. Then later I started to pick up the pace again but the boy got home with his usual whirlwind of "himness"  and all writing came to a halt. We'll see if I get anything done today.

I've been thinking on the topic of revenge again lately. I'm guessing I got a short story in there somewhere trying to come out. I've played around with my jilted fiancee/kidney idea but it seems sort of half baked. It's like there is a story in there, but it's not ready yet. So I'm kind of writing it with the idea I'll cut the story out that I find in it later and see what I can do with it.

Anyways, I hope everybody enjoys their Wednesday. We're halfway to that glorious weekend, folks. Hang in there!

(edit)
And a brief comment on the Wade Phillips firing from the Dallas Cowboys...The only person who for sure benefited from that is Wade Phillips. At least the nightmare is behind him. Whoever is the next coach for the Cowboys is going to face the same problem that Wade did, and that is the players knowing that they play for somebody else but the coach. If the HC isn't the final authority on who gets played and how, then he may as well not be out there.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Shiny Monday Edition


We got quite a bit done around the house this weekend. The house is in good shape, and I managed to get all the laundry that has been stacked in baskets sorted and put away. I was busy folding laundry while Karla repaired one of our toilets, replacing all it's insides.

Now some people might look askance at a couple that has a husband who sorts laundry while the wife does the plumbing repairs. I suppose there are several possible explanations for that phenomenon...

1. Karla is simply the more mechanically inclined of the two of us.
2. We are an enlightened, 21st century couple unhindered by conventional gender roles.
3. I am simply so chock full of masculine awesomeness that the mere proximity to me and my aura of male prowess inspires even the women around me into feats of home repair.

I'm leaning towards option three, but I hesitate to rule out the first two too soon.

The downside of the house looking so good is that no writing really got done. At least not on anything that will ever see the light of day. That's okay, I'm getting garbage out at the moment. At least I'm writing. I also need to figure out a cover for The Ornament, so that would be a legitimate project to undertake if I'm not ready to get back on Argiope yet. I would like to get that story published before Thanksgiving.

Gotta produce. It's all about production.

And how about them Cowboys! I have never seen a professional football team simply give up on a game like that before. I will always be a Cowboys fan, but they are arguably the worst team in the NFL. All the talent in the world is worthless when that talent is giving up on plays before their over.  And they better be looking to grab another QB out there because Kitna is going to killed with this level of protection. If I was the coach I would have put my offensive line on  a bus and let them take the long way home. That was pitiful.

Oh well, my spleen = vented. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekend Blech


Well, I went and ate Chinese food, but I can't say I got terribly enlightened on life. I did get a fortune cookie that said a long delayed wish would come true. With my luck that probably means some chick I lusted after in High School will show up on my doorstep, all old, fat and crazy.

I'm shelving Argiope for a few days. I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind. It will probably be garbage but that's fine. Maybe getting garbage out of my head will help me get back to work on what I need to be working on. So on with the writing of verbal refuse. May none of it ever see the light of day.

Overall, I still got nuthin'.

But I guess I'll just have to make do with the nuthin' I got.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Got Nuthin

The title says it all.

I'm going to go eat Chinese food and try and figure out what's up with life.

Later

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diminishing Returns


I'm definitely coming to the conclusion that spending money on promotion is simply not a good idea. I ran a relatively cheap promotion campaign for The Ways of Khrem yesterday. The result was the sale of two books. Not exactly a big return on my money, and yet sadly one of the best I've had so far (at least per dollar spent). Don't get me wrong, I DO get some results...more than I got before I started promoting...but it can still be a little discouraging. I just have to remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I'm a little stuck on Argiope. It's not that I don't know where to go, it's just that I'm in a scene and it's coming out terrible. Terrible to the  point that rewriting it would affect subsequent material, so I need to back up and get it better than it is now so I can know how to go forward. I'll work on that today. If I don't get any ideas, I might shelve the project for a few days and work on something else. Maybe I'm jamming up inside. (that just sounds wrong.)

I'm sort of playing with this non-genre novella idea of a woman returning to face a man she jilted for his brother twenty years ealier...now that he needs a kidney transplant. I envision it with a lot of Hemingway style dialogue... Or not. I'm just not being productive at the moment and that makes me start casting around for other ideas.

I'm beginning to look forward to Thanksgiving. I haven't seen any of my family in a while and I'm actually starting to miss them a bit.  You would think we live in different states as opposed to just a couple of hours apart. But when everybody is busy, that couple of hours may as well be days. Ah well, Thanksgiving will be soon and I look forward to cornbread stuffing. Mmmmm....cornbread stuffing.

Now it's back tot he grind.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weds Thoughts


My sleep schedule is a little off, so I'm going to bed early and getting up even earlier. I just drank some chamomile tea to see if I can get back to bed soon.

Progress on the novel is slow and steady. I'm still not happy with the way it's developing, and I can tell it's going to need some serious rewriting in places. My main character needs more...character. He's completely overwhelmed by the stronger supporting characters around him. I just need to be sure and enhance him yet stay true to his situation and circumstances. I hate phony characters.

Sometime this month I need to get The Ornament ready for publication on the kindle. It's my stab at a Christmas story... see, that's a joke...I'm usually a horror writer and I said "stab"...get it? Or not. Sigh.

I understand there was an election tonight. I used to follow politics a lot more passionately than I do now. Then I realized it was one of those things that I was getting too happy, or too angry about...and that I really only had so much control over. Even worse, I was starting to get the sneaking suspicion there were people out there being paid lots of money to make people like me angry or happy or whatever. I didn't like that idea very much, and I've been trying to focus my mind on more local things. Things I can effect.

Anyways, congrats to the winners and tough luck to the losers. There's always next election.

We steam cleaned (or pressure washed) the outside of the house the other day. It actually looks pretty good. We also got the six foot deep layer of pine needles off the roof. It took about twenty bags to bag all those needles, but that's another job done. I've just about got all the dirty clothes washed, and we're down to about four baskets of clothes that need sorting. Not to mention, we've gotten rid of a lot of clothes we weren't using anymore. Things are getting better.

Now I just need to get back to bed. I can still get four more hours of sleep before the kids get up. Good night, folks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Few More Thoughts on Halloween and Stuff


One thing I noticed Sunday night, was the enormous amount of kids in black costumes with no reflective surfaces of any type, or glow sticks, or anything to to warn drivers of their presence. I went to the store on Halloween night, and drove about five miles an hour through my neighborhood while having an ulcer over child sized shadows suddenly flitting across the street ahead of me, or wandering out in the road. It seems to me to be only a few years back when Halloween costumes came with all this bright reflective tape on them. What happened to that?

I know my kids didn't have it, but we had a prearranged route in a cul de sac where there was no traffic. There were literally hundreds of kids out on the main street of the neighborhood, and they barely showed up even when they entered my headlights. Has there been some kind of change in consumer safety rules or something? Or did people and companies just care more a few years back?

Oh well, at least I managed to get to the store and back without splatting any kids.

On another note, today was a rather productive day for me. I managed to get the living room and kitchen in decent shape AND get my word count on Argiope up to near 72,000 words. Progress continues. I now have Adam, the protagonist, in a hallway having his first conversation with one of the people who have been trying to kill him. It's an important scene, and it seems to be coming out a little flat. I'll work on that.

Oh well, it's Starbucks today!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Spookfest is History



Halloween 2010 has come and gone.

The kids enjoyed it...running from house to house like little spook powered fiends in a sugar frenzy. I'm glad, but I sorta feel like I let them down a little this year. I didn't buy pumpkins till the Friday, the promptly forgot about them so they never got their jack-o-lanterns this year. I also think we might have cut the trick or treating a tad short. I know the kids didn't know better, but as  a kid I know I trick or treated for about an hour. Next  year he'll be in third grade and I'll let him do it a little later.

Still, a good time was had by all. Batman and the Princess are safe in their beds and dreaming of trick or treats.

Now Monday is upon me, as is November as well. Lots of authors are doing Nanowrimo, but I'm just not having any part of that. I'm one of those "once burnt, twice shy" types, and I remember the massive case of writer's block I got last time. No Nanowrimo for me.

Now Thanksgiving looms a mere three and a half weeks away. Another holiday intended to keep Nate in a portly state of affairs. Oh well, it's all in a good cause...right? I seldom get cornbread dressing, and I ain't passing it up this year either. I want's it, I does. Oh yesss...

Well, here's wishing everybody a grand start to a new month! Happy November!