The completion of 51 orbits

Yesterday (Jan 22) was my birthday, which is less of a thing to me than it seems to be on Facebook. There is no particular party planned, past or present. I mention this because people ask.

Even though just about every particular of my life has changed in the past 12 months, in a lot of ways, nothing has changed at all. If that seems contradictory you are not watching me putter around the house.  I’ve learned some important and hard lessons, but they are mostly deeply personal and peculiar to the people in my life. For more general wisdom, I will refer you to what I wrote a year ago, which I still stand by.

Here’s what you can do while not attending my non-existent birthday party:

THIS SATURDAY I will be at Tempe “ComicCon” at the Tempe Public Library hawking Beanstalk and Beyond.  The term “ComicCon” is in quotes because they are not supposed to use the term, but they had already named the thing when that judgement came down from on high.

Beanstalk Conicon 2018

You can also meet the man who put together this poster

Saturday, January 27, 2018
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

TPL Comicon 2017

The Library Comicon is an annual event featuring costume contests, artists & authors, shopping, and activities for children and adults alike.  Fans of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Wholocks, Trekkies, and more are invited to gather at the Tempe Public Library in costume for a celebration of pop culture.

 

I’ll be in the booth with a good pen and my sparkling wit. I hope to see you there.

 

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE

It appears that I gave $50 to Barefoot Writers* so I could get 3+ e-mails a day detailing other exiting opportunities to spend even more money, but only if I act right now. More grievous is the inrush of spam mail aimed at the economically desperate – spurious investment opportunities and credit cards I qualify for no matter what.

If copy-writing were really that lucrative and/or understaffed, I’d get like one letter with a take-or-or-leave-it offer. Because they have copy-writing to get back to. The hard sell I’m getting likely means they make more money off of desperate wannabe’s than desperate marketing clients.

Compare/contrast with Marketing Profs Today, a more generic marketing resource, from which I also get regular e-mail. They also offer plenty of opportunities for me to spend more money. Their newsletter, though, will have links to five articles, four of which will have actual content and free – once you click through the pop-ups (this is typical)** . (The fifth will be behind a pay wall.)

All I get from AWAI (the actual acronym for the organization behind Barefoot Spammers) is  bland advice I could get following writers on Twitter, followed by a thousand word hard-sell.

I’ve blown $50 on dumber things, and I had ti to blow at the the time. I’m not wealthy, but I’m solvent enough that $50 by itself does not threaten the budget. Even so, the next bit of curiosity I might satisfy is: will they really give me my money back as claimed?

[*] I am not going to dignify these people with a link. They are not hard to find if you are curious.

[**] You’ll have to give info for a free membership/subscription.

WORD COUNT

1200 words of transcription duty on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) on Monday, and then another 1200 original words on that same project on Saturday.

500 words for work-shopping that on the Monday night Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop.

1500 words on a chapter for Echoes, the sequel to One of 64.

500 words for work-shopping same at the Armadillo Group.

Six panels for the One of 64 webcomic colored (at 200 “words” each) for 600 words.

That’s 5400 words.

A glass of good whiskey, then, and one more time around the sun.

You were warned.

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Maybe I shouldn’t be left alone…

I have the house to myself for the first time in a month. Earl has gone back to Tucson to sort his life, and my daughter has gone back to NAU. I paid off a credit card with the meager profit from the house, and drank good whiskey to celebrate.

It’s only been 24 hours, but so far – it’s been good to be alone.

That’s pretty much the news.

From the Armadillo group we learned:

The EEOC has well written guidance about sexual harassment. No, seriously, they do.

Six years ago, when we came to EEOC as commissioners, we were struck by how many cases of sexual harassment EEOC continues to deal with every year. What was further striking to us were the number of complaints of harassment on every other basis protected under equal employment opportunity laws the Commission deals with today. We are deeply troubled by what we have seen during our tenure on the Commission.

With legal liability long ago established, with reputational harm from harassment well known, with an entire cottage industry of workplace compliance and training adopted and encouraged for 30 years, why does so much harassment persist and take place in so many of our workplaces? And, most important of all, what can be done to prevent it? After 30 years – is there something we’ve been missing?

Once you realize that the other gender(s) are of equal status to your own, the lines aren’t hard to puzzle out. It’s that first realization that seems to cause all the trouble.

It has been posited that 1070’s Des Moines, Iowa is the blandest  time/space coordinate possible.

 

ardan

None are so bland

But Google image searches for 19670’s Des Moines turn up weird shit:

 

afa-187788

Hulk Hogan, Donald Trump and Andre the Giant from back when they were all equally respectable.

And/or

Word count:

Last Monday’s WHWL? counts for 1000 words.

I wrote an interlude of Echoes (the sequel to One of 64) of about 1000 words about the Imperials, gianr silicone spheres what inhabit gas giants and used to rule the galaxy until they basically got tired of it.

I shared that at the same writer’s group where we talked about the EEOC and 1970’s Des Moines. 500 words.

I sketched and inked 4 panels of One of 64 – webcomic version(200 each =800 words).

I hand-wrote wrote another 750 words on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond.

And whatever this word count is puts me comfortably over the limit. I’d say drinky time, but I have already started.

Now we know.

Living on Facebook is never dull

Those of you who follow me on Facebook might already know that I had an interesting weekend. I had an unexpected house-guest who basically lives his life on Facebook. While he was here, I planned a little bonfire with a few friends, and after he posted about it, and then again, and then again, it turned into an event.

Even with all that:

1000 words credit for research into the Irish Immram tales, a type of folkloric tale about a sea voyage. This is the template fr the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond : Taliesin’s Last Apprentice.

1000 word credit for editing and compiling the first section of that book, now that I have a mostly complete draft.

1500 words on Echoes, the sequel to One of 64.

500 words for attending a writer’s group.

850 words for a draft of the first half of the next chapter of Taliesin’s Last apprentice.

850 words for transcribing it.

For Jack, I write all the first drafts by hand. That won’t work for a writer’s group, so I have to then edit and transcribe them into the word processor with a relatively quick turn-around. So double duty.

5700 words. That would call for whisky except I already started on beer.

Oh and fuck Sprint. Fuck them right in their squishy fuckholes. I mean, I didn’t care for Verizon’s customer service either when I had them a few years ago, but I have had an epiphany – none of these companies have good customer service. Verizon, though, at least has good coverage. Sprint has dead spots in city limits.  Also an army of Pakistani Sprintbots who are all very sorry they cannot actually help me.

OK, fuck you too.

I almost titled this post : “WordPress does not believe fuckhole is a word” but that title would pop up on Facebook and the like, and that might be a step too low. Besides, WordPress also flags WordPress as misspelled.

Out of curiosity (and poor judgement) I clicked on a link to the Barefoot Writer, where the breathless form letter (they all read like some overcaffienated motivational speaker) told me how much money I could make from writing freelance ad copy. About $50 gets me access to their database of clients. Maybe.

Fifty bucks gets you a daily hard-sell e-mail to spend a couple hundred dollars on their marketing course. Which, no doubt gives you the opportunity to spend a thousand dollars on their in-person seminar somewhere and – just stop.

If your copy-writing biz is so damn lucrative, why aren’t you doing that instead of bothering me? (I’d ask them, but all these e-mails are no-reply.  the inbedded links go right to the credit card screen).

But the worst, I think, is answering one of these ads fills every site you visit with similar ads. I’m OK guys. I have enough to write. Sorry I touched your tar baby.

Since I don’t want to leave on that note, Zefrank would like to tell you about our friends the cuttlefish:

The Plan Going Forward (2018+)

I am not one to make a big thing out of the new year. It’s one more day;, an arbitrary marker. Nothing really starts and stops except the tax year. A measure of how seriously I take this: I once made a New Year’s to never make another New Year’s resolution, and I have faithfully kept that for decades.

That this weekend marks a change of direction in my life is a coincidence. From the time my life fell out from underneath me  to the point where I could realistically transition from damage control to forward progress again happened to line up with the new year.

I am emotionally reconciled that my marriage is over. Most of the financial transition that situation forced has been completed, or is on schedule to be completed. I have completed moving the giant pile of crap that I take responsibility for from one address to another.

I have a pile of old tax returns to set on fire in my new yard, and on that occasion, I will allow myself some self pity over this matter for one last evening. You are welcome to join me. I will be drinking good whisky.

Then we are done with all of that shit.

What follows now is as much for my reference as any other purpose. If you came just for writing advice, or random facts, or the antics of octopi, nothing below here will satisfy that. It’s all about me. If you stop reading here I will not take that personally.

People have a much higher chance of achieving goals if they write them down. I am putting myself publicly (even though I average like six hits per post – this is a public blog) on the spot for this.

Here’s the plan going forward.

Finish the damn books.

A chapter a week in both the Jack sequel and  the 64 sequel, and starting in spring some non-fiction project as well.

I have no shortage of ideas, and have been blessed with the ability to describe them in writing at a professional level. The trick now is to keep my ass in the chair.

It is a known dynamic of publishing that if you get three good books to market, you begin to develop a readership, and by ten books, this becomes a feedback loop swelling into a following.

They have to be good books – but I feel I am up to that. Quantity/time is my major challenge.

This can be done if 5000 words per week becomes my minimum. The default format for this blog will be documenting my progress towards that. (And other things that come to mind.)

This week I hit 4000, counting this blog. Since I’m working tonight, that’s going to stand.

 

Divesting myself of all this crap in a rational manner

I still find myself valuing things and stuff more than perhaps would be best-practice Buddhism. Couldn’t quite bring myself to leave it all for the dumpster. I left a lot – but that is kinda hard to tell from walking through my house now. About half of my total possessions are still in piles. That you can walk around my house testifies to my ability to stack efficiently more than my economy of inventory.

The plan, over the next few years, is to get myself down to an inventory level that is actually mobile. To get there, some things have to happen:

  • For everything I acquire, something has to go. I am replacing, not adding.
  • I have some memorabilia and collectables that are wasted on a thrift store shelf. Collectors who want these things will seek them on the internet, and I plan to put them there for them to find. That project replaces the non-fiction book until it is done.
  • I’m going to limit my books to what can fit on the bookshelves. I’ve given myself some time for this, first because I lost nearly half my bookshelf space in the move, and second to give myself some time to read these books before I get rid of them somehow. Also crucial to this plan – more bookshelves.
  • Now that I have an appropriate space, I’m going to transform this pile of tools and hardware into a workshop, and make stuff out of the accumulated materials that I couldn’t bring myself to toss in the trash. Maybe some of it will be worth something – I don’t know.  There is no downside to trying.
  • A workshop also enable more efficient home repair and renovations, which will be ongoing.  I rent this place well below market value on the assumption that I take care of upkeep and repairs.
  • I am going to eliminate my unsecured debt. I have a budget that alloows me to live within my base pay, so I can throw my extra income (Rhino and what-have-you) into debt relief until it is gone.

For the record, this is nearly identical to my plan before my life fell apart. It took me three months, but I am back to where I can pursue that again with a straight face. This point coincidentally marks the promise of new year.

 

Coda: The end game

If you made it this far, I can tell you how it ends. I am resolved not to die in this house surrounded by piles of stuff I can no longer manage. My grandfather has already done that gag, in the very room I write this from, and I would find a different path.

I daydream of a compound, shared with other parties, where we have combined resources into a big workshop, a big kitchen and an expansive library. I don’t have much to add to the kitchen, but I can help out with the other two. Then all I need is a bedroom, and a place to park the RV I otherwise work out of. By work out of, I mean drive somewhere nice, write through my 14 day stay limit, drive somewhere else, come back to the compound when the circle leads me there. That would be my ideal endgame.

There are, of course, a lot of moves between here and there. But now we know how I want it to end up.

Then I’ll figure out what comes next.

 

Accumulated Notes from Writer’s Groups

First an announcement: I have started One of 64 as a web-comic. Every Thursday, you can watch me teach myself, perhaps painfully, how to produce a web-comic. The first four pages came out, by accident of Friday. That has been corrected.

Start here.

For those who might be new here, I go to a fair number of open invitation drop-in writer’s groups. More about that here, if’n you care. Sometimes I share first or second drafts. Most of the time I take notes. Here are some that have accumulated over time, in more or less the order they appears in my notebook.

Most of these notes are things I am reminding myself to look up afterwards, and the link would be the most relevant site I found in a few minutes searching.

I am told by multiple sources that 24 reviews of your work on Amazon bumps you up a level in exposure via their algorithm.

The Cheyenne Tribe speaks of their prophet and greatest medicine man, Motzeyout. The piece presented at group suggested he was a time traveler who predicted the coming of the white man.  That’s not mentioned in the summary here, but not ruled out either.

I have a note that says “Iowa Bird Museum” which does not seem to exist. You can go visit the Talbot Collection at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and/or the Stempel Bird Museum in Macedonia Iowa. Both are sizeable collections of dead birds in various poses, but I think our author was describing the Talbot Collection. If you yearn to see living birds in Iowa, try the Iowa Raptor Project in Solon Iowa.

I have a note reading “history of Pima cotton in China” which I’m going to skip. You’re welcome.

I have two books noted:

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes 

Poltergiest – a Study in Destructive Haunting by Colin Wilson.

Below these I wrote: “Crackpot psychiatry is good fuel for fantasy”. So you were warned.

I have written “Akasha” which is either the Hindu equivalent for the Ethreal Plane or the name of the first Vampire. I have no idea which I meant here.

Finally, Skylark of Space is the first commonly recognized published space opera. The Author, EE Smith would go on to write the Lensmen series that gave us about half the known tropes in that genre. You can read it on Gutenberg, and so can I.

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

Author Events – a thing I do now sometimes

conalope1

I will be at Westercon 70, down the road in Tempe AZ of the July 4th weekend (July 1-4) doing many things.

We are proud to host the most prestigious regional science fiction and fantasy convention on the west coast on its 70th anniversary. … We are officially branding our 2017 event ConAlope. We are commemorating the 70th anniversary not only of Westercon but also of the crash landing of a UFO (or a military surveillance balloon) in Roswell, NM on July 8th, 1947. We suggest that the stranded aliens wrangled a horde of frisky jackalopes and rode northwest to Tempe. They may well make an appearance at Westercon!

I will be hosting a  book launch party for Beanstalk and Beyond .

I will be running episodes of Go Action Fun Time in the game room.

And Mystic Publishers will have copies of  Beanstalk and Beyond for sale in the dealer’s room (along with their other books, I suppose).

This will all be a whole thing with time/space coordinates as soon as I have those. This is just a head’s up.

Before that happens, I will be just south of Prescott next weekend (June 24 & 25) conducting a trail finding/building workshop at Whispering Pines Campground for the annual Arizona Community of Christ Reunion.

This is a church event, and I am there for church reasons, but it would be of interest to  novice hikers, and the event is technically open to the public, assuming you register for the camp. I will also have copies of my hiking guides on hand.

I include the Whispering Pines event because several regular blog readers are also church members, and because it segues into mentioning that this blog now has a calendar page. 

I am also working on a secondary book launch not on a holiday weekend at a major SF/F convention. When I have some resolution to that, I will not be shy. If you have ideas, I am still in the listening phase.

Now you know.

 

Confessions of an Old Rookie

So I haven’t been updating blogs, but I have been plugging along on longer form fiction projects. A trade off. There’s that, and the learning curve of a new job.

I don’t have the advantage of being young and ignorant. I am simply ignorant. There’s some tolerance left to the occasional oh-that-adapter-won’t-work-with-that-gateway-because-reasons that I still encounter. But practical logistics I should be on top of. Case in point:

If you have a four am call, get your information in order the day before, in the sober daylight while informed grown-ups will answer their phones. The location in question was one small section of a labyrinthine medical facility. This particular section was nearly finished (they expected patients by 6am – hence the hour) while the rest of the sprawling site remained a dark wilderness of scaffolding and drywall studs and doors marked no entry.

Anyone on a construction site before sun-up generally knows what they are doing, and not much else.

It took me longer to find the section than to actually do the job. Happily, there was not much to it, and I wandering around looking for a way back to my car comfortably before doors opened.

My previous day job was a 24/7 operation, and I have already made the mistake of wandering around a maze of locked doors if the wee hours of the morning because I forgot to get a more specific location ahead of time.  I may be new but I should know better.

I should have a book launch/party thing planned for Beanstalk and Beyond, but I don’t have books in my hand. Because I kept forgetting to order them. (There was also a paycheck gap as I transitioned jobs). From now on, that’s in the contract – author copies.

Yeah, it’s my first novel, and my first book launch. Neither of the hiking guides had such an event. Of course, I also had 12 copies shipped to my door without asking.

I do not yet know if my publisher will have a table at Westercon, but I will be there anyway running Go Action Fun Time.

I should know better than to put that at the bottom of the post by now, huh?

Now we know.