The More Things Change…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, some rumor control. There has been a rash of stories about border guards detaining people for no good reason, and as much as I would like to attribute that to the Trumpster – this is not new. [Watts ended up convicted of a felony, is barred from traveling in or though the US and paid a fine.]

My wife has given notice at Rhino, and I will miss working with her very much, not only because I (obviously) enjoy her company, but because she was also good at her job.I don’t get into Rhino politics online, but from my perspective – which is abnormally well informed – this situation was 100% avoidable had anyone in charge been inclined to take action.

This is neither the first nor last good employee who has had this experience.

March 7th is her last day at Rhino. She took a new job which starts March 8th.

I have started going back to writer’s groups. I go to Central Phoenix one on Monday nights at Grand Central Coffee Company (where I’m work-shopping the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond). and an independent one on Thursday Night at the Armadillo Grill – which seems really familiar.  (My old group met there for years, on Thursday night). Join us if your are inclined, and I will try not to spill beer on my copy of your first or second draft. [Links above are to the Meet-up sites which may require registration]

At Are We Lost Yet?  I report on outdoor retailers vs the Utah GOP.

The twice annual Outdoor Retailers Show has announced that it will pull out of its long time home in Salt Lake City Utah in protest of Utah officials support of eliminating federal lands by transferring them to the states.

At Fantastical History, we continue on with giants, exploring my strange (made-up) theory about the Muans and how they became Asuras.

Muans ( a term made up well after the fact) are a race of supernatural immortals native to southeast Asia. Their lost history informs the legends and myths behind the Asura and Devas and Jinn and Oni of more recent human cultures.

At Curious Continuity, I report both facts and wild conjecture about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven dwarves.

Unless we are captured by alien slavers and dragged there, we are not going to be around when (if) human starships reach the seven rocky dwarf planets orbiting tightly around TRAPPIST-1.  Why wait for that – when we can just make stuff up. Come on – NASA wants you to!

And I updated my writer’s resume to try and land a gig writing for Outer Places. So if they made it this far down checking me out – hi guys! The links were sparse because a lot of what I’ve written for the web has since evaporated in 404 unknown host country.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Now you know.

 

MORE ON PETER WATTS:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guardhttp://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guard

https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/12/12/us_border_guards_arrest_author_peter_watts.html

http://www.tor.com/2010/04/27/sometimes-we-win/

 

 

The lead is beneath the mead

This is the second day in a row here in Phoenix where the high temperature did not exceed 100 deg F. The worst is finally over, and I think I can start thinking in terms of progress rather than damage control.

So there’s some good news in my life:

I finally bottled last year’s mead.

24 bottles of mead on the ... oh never mind.

24 bottles of mead on the … oh never mind.

If you can’t read it, I call the batch “Haboob” – the Arabic term for a dust storm that has somehow replaced the previous term for dust storm in these parts, which was “dust storm”.

Mead made be better for us than we thought, according to this article from Modern Notion.

And I have signed an honest-to-God book deal for a work of fiction. The Beanstalk and Beyond was accepted by New Link Publishers, and imprint Mystic Publishing.  The terms were fairly low-ball, but they’re fairly new at this, as am I. So I have added a page just for that project, and cleaned up this website because we’re back to being an author’s site now.

Yeah – I buried the lead beneath the mead. Before you chide me, I do no have an editorial deadline yet, much less a release date. I’ll start pushing heavy when I have something to push.

Now you know.

CopperCon 31 and a few other lessons

First – I’ve actually updated other blogs.

Are we lost yet profiles Elden Springs and my upcoming book signing / workshop.

DIRECT LINK TO THE REI EVENT

And at Writing Made Visible, there are some reposts about the accelerating sales of  e-books.

Small cons are great – because you can actually talk to people!

Buy some light groceries and keep them in the hotel room.

The art carries the story in a comic book (or graphic novel, or any variant). Words only get what little space is left over, so every word has to count. No small talk.

There is no standard for comic book scripts. Unless you’re writing for Dark Horse Comics. Their format is here.

Marketing (or anything else) via social media – a few rules:

1) Be social first! Pitch your crap second. The other way around just gets you deleted.

2) If you’re not comfortable with the format, don’t use it. You’ll likely suck at it anyway.

3) If you’re marketing yourself as a writer – write well. Spells words correctly.

4) No amount of social media presence will make up for a shoddy product.

The current estimate is that half of all star systems have planets, and the average may be 1-10 planets per star.

We find an awful lot of “Hot Jupiters” – gas giants closely orbiting a star – which goes against our model of how solar systems form. We know why we keep finding them – they are relatively easy to spot. We have no idea why they would exist at all.

Planets orbiting pulsars are very easy to find, even as small as the Earth. But the pulsar’s radiation makes life pretty much impossible.

Piratey sword-fighting was all about shorter movements with shorter swords (crowded ships and all).  And footwork – you live or die by footwork.

I’m over adapting anything to D20. It’s no longer supported for 3.5, and I have no urge to learn 4.0. I’m pushing forward with the game. Amen.

I’m thinking about writing it in Tiddlywiki. Seriously.

There might be a separate blog for that later on.

Finally New Scientist looks into the quantum-mechanics of human thought.

Now you know.

Finally coming up for air

Cause this blog isn’t dead. It’s just for the first time in 3 weeks, I’ve been able to come up for air. Haven’t been busy with one big thing. Oh no. A bunch of little things:

* swapped rooms in the house. My bedroom is now where the “family room” was. The “Office/lounge” is now where the bedroom was. The bedroom is functional. The O/L, where I now sit, not so much.

* Negotiated and finally signed a contract for Five Star Hikes in Flagstaff and Sedona and started work on that.

* Worked a selection of big, medium and small shows for Rhino. Then caught up with the install projects I had been ignoring because of those shows.

* Pushed forward on the space opera.

* Wrote a few articles for Fitness Plus

* Watched the Suns run over the Portland Trailblazers

* and played some Dungeons and Dragons.

I also kept falling asleep on the couch.

Did we learn things? Yeah

My house to the “Y” in Sedona is about 2 hours flat.

There is room in the market for a good hiking guide for Sedona and Flagstaff.

My old Garmin E-trex legend does not interface cleanly with the new Garmin Basecamp freeware. I need to upgrade. This is why I fear progress.

European power is all screwed up because of the French. (Of course, my source was British roadies).

There’s a swampy little lake near Casa Grande called Picacho Reservoir. And that’s about all I could learn about it. With 350 words t cover 20 lakes, that was all I needed to know about it.

This year’s  Suns squad is the best since 2004.

Good characters make even poorly designed systems (like 2nd AD&D) fun anyway.

Yeah, we’ll do some brazen wonk about immigration, but another night, ok?

Meanwhile, some links:

Strange Horizons gathers experts on zombies

What you always suspected, Jason Fried confirms: Why You Can’t Work at Work

Gamepocalypse chronicles how our culture is turning into one big collection of games

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual is fairly close to how I’d like to present my space opera (except my subject is less satirical, and would be carved into bigger chunks).

And finally:

Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Now You Know.

The two-year standard

This is how I manage my blood pressure: when confronted with a problem, I ask myself, will I care about this two years from now? If the answer is “no”, then I do not worry about it.

Two years from now, I will not care that I failed to update this blog for more than two weeks. I honestly doubt that anyone else will care either.

Bikram Yoga, or “hot” yoga requires that practitioners to go through their 26 different poses in a 105F room at at least 40% humidity. You can learn it in Scottsdale. You won’t see me there, of course, because I only know about this through researching an article.

Wondering what you forgot before delivering that bid? Delivery charges. That’s what I always forget.

I am now 0-18 for Beanstalk queries – and wondering where the futility mark actually is.

I have a contract from Menasha Ridge Press to do a hiking guide for Sedona/Flagstaff – but its 60% of the advance that I got for the Tonto Guide.

Those are both decisions I’ll care about two years from now, so I’m not going to make them until Monday.

Tom Friedman wants to start a party of Radical Moderates.

I write often about innovation in energy and education. But I’ve come to realize that none of these innovations will emerge at scale until we get the most important innovation of all — political innovation that will empower independents and centrists, which describes a lot of the country.

What do we want? – Reasonable progress!

When do we want it? – In due course!

Even though I’m reflexively a leftie – I’m with that crowd.

You know how the internet is full of periodic tables portraying just about anything? Yeah. We all knew this would happen eventually.

I’m gonna break a rule and write a separate post with the writing stuff. It’s my blog, and I can do what I want.

Two years from now, no one will notice.

Now you know.

After the Holidays

Thanksgiving in the USA. I was busy. Learned a few things.

When re-roping a fly system, someone is going to have to get on top of the head-block and feed the rope through – unless you’re a lot smarter than we were.

There is no biography of Alvin Gentry on line that I found useful – so I wrote one.

A timely, topical entry for Examiner, such as this one on Phx camping stores Black Friday specials, earns me about $0.40 for an hour’s work. So I stick to relatively evergreen stuff like campground profiles.

At the in-laws, I have to seize control of the TV or it will be stuck on game show re-runs from the 70’s. Not kidding. There are two things I can put on the TV that will not generate controversy from the wide confluenec of family in attendence: Sports or science documentaries.

From Nova, I learned that there are two different dream cycles: REM and non-REM. REM cycles ted to be more creative, but also involve more negative emotions. Non-REM dreams are more positive, but more limited to actual memories.

From Scientific American Frontiers, I learned one of the few useful things to coem out of Biosphere was the Biosphere Diet, a high vitamin, low calorie diet born of desperation (their gardening scheme yielded a fraction of expected results), but which actually left the participants leaner and healthier than when they went in.

Oh, and when the Detroit Lions have lost, its time to serve the turkey.

A backlog of [writer] links:

Book Marketing Maven: blog ideas for your fiction-writing blog

Caren Gussoff shares 5 Truths about Editors

And some more opinion of the Demand Studios and ilk dillema:

Carol Tice’s 7 reasons not to write a $15 blog (a numbered list – just like a non-fic freelancer…)

Now You Know

 

 

 

Beyond Demand Studios

I have decided to blow off Demand Studios for a while. Some of that simply coincided with the creative blahs that left this blog unattended for a week. But most of it had to do with money.

DS pays a flat fee of $5-20 for a 250-500 word article – preferably with photos. I decided from the get-go that they didnt pay me enough to find photos for them. But they had some topics on the list that I actually had an interest in, so I wrote them up, and the money appeared in Pay Pal. All well and good.

But what they purchased for less than a penny a word was All Rights. So I can’t re-use that material elsewhere, which – so you know – is the staple of free-lance profitability. The difference between a hobby and a living is the ability to sell an article (or at least a version of it) several different times.

My stuff about headlamps and forest rangers appears on Trails.com, if you care. But I’ve been paid off and have no incentive to actively promote the content.

Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly did a long expose on DS recently, and while I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, the fire kinda went out after I read it. I don’t care the Freelancewriting.com is in cahoots with DS. I don’t really mind that DS makes a lot of money (a lot!), though I think they’d be better served sharing a little more with the writers.

To be fair, Deborah Ng, of freelancewriters.com objects to Hoy’s characterizations.

DS claims proficient writers can earn above minimum wage, which runs contrary to my experience. Of course, I am notorious for over-research. If I knew the subject of a $20 article, and could bang it out off the top of my head, this would be true. But that seems the exception for just about every writer.

I do not, as a matter of policy, track writing income by the hour. On that basis, I make far more money as a stagehand – let alone a technical director – than writing anything. I calculate income by the published word.

Now, factor in that I don’t have to query – they pick the topics. BUT factor in my time slogging through their long (and slow-loading) topic list, chock full of unclear, troublesome prompts. Well, still easier than concocting a 250 word query.

Even so, $.04/word – max – is below my minimum rate – which is based on first rights, not all rights, and never includes photos (always extra!).

I’m not saying I’ll never write for them again. After all, the check cleared. I’m just saying that I’m not that hungry – and I don’t anticipate getting that hungry.

Web writing in general pays a fraction of what free-lancers have become accustomed to from magazines. But the web isn’t dying – its growing, Magazines are having the opposite experience. So I ask myself, do I want to fight with all the other veteran freelancers for a hold on the last parts of the ship still above water? Or do I cast about looking for a new way to stay afloat on what has become a very different ocean?

(The metaphor’s a mess – I know. This blog is always a first draft. You get what you pay for. )

I’m not the only one trying to figure this out.

Meanwhile, after 23 articles, my Examiner earnings are still below what I grossed in 9 articles for DS. But that will eventually reverse. And my Examiner experiment is more of self-education about SEO than serious revenue generation.

And I just took a gig blogging about the suns for phxsunsnews.com for a rate so low I dare not speak of it. But that’s largely recreational.

I’m thinking about starting a blog covering the sea-change in short non-fiction. Since I’m desperately trying to keep track of it anyway.

But I’m not making any promises – unless  you’re writing me a check.

Now you know.