Lurching towards an author blog

I’m excited to announce the upcoming releases of my newest books!

Beanstalk and Beyond is volume one of the autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer and chronicles how a young chicken thief in Arthurian Britain grows into a young hero. This is due out from New Link Publishing.

One of 64 tells the secret history of that legendary force, The 64, who would fight interstellar crime and mayhem when our nearest interstellar neighbors were still the wild frontier. This is due out from Radion Media.

Towards those ends, we are reshaping this blog to be a bit more a functional author site, although my personal blog will continue here until I have some compelling reason to stop.

Hence the new look.

News and events are announced here, on my assorted social media holes (Facebook, Twitter, etc. ) and there is an e-mail list. If you want to be included on the latter, contact me at the e-mail listed at the bottom of the About the Author page.

 

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Anything but politics

Which, so you know, is a struggle.

We went to Palm Springs (actually Cathedral City, but they are separated by a sidewalk) for Thanksgiving, because family. We now know the chair lift that takes you near the top of 8000 foot San Jacinto mountain costs $27/head. I’d tell you more, but that stopped us right there.

If you want to visit Joshua Tree National Park, the best way in is the south entrance. On what a ranger told us was the busiest day of the year, we entered without wait or charge. The visitor center was jacked, but the entrance was unencumbered.

We saw a tarantula. Joshua Tree is actually kinda sparse on huge wonders you can see from the car. It’s a hiking/climbing destination, and I had the wrong crew for that.

Stopping in Quartzsite for sustenance, we visited the Hi Jolly Memorial – so you don’t have to.

kimg0315

My Rheem gas water heater went 14 years before the bottom rusted out, so I bought another one. If you have an old house, like mine, it is worth it to hire a plumber to replace the corroded, seized valve. But replacing the tank itself can be done by anyone of average handyman competence, and a buddy.

My dog has been laying in the same spot for a third straight day with “Old dog vertibulosis” which is basically vertigo. We have medicine for it. It’s yet to really work. We shall see. The folks at Madison Animal Hospital took us in  minutes before closing on a Sunday night as we clamored in with this 70 pound senile dog that we supposed to be near death. They were very helpful.

At Curious Continuity, ghost universes aren’t the same as time travel.

At Fantastical History, I whine about how deep POV ruined my literary vision for a fairty tale.

And at The64, I announce the novel that will actually happen.

Rejoice in a manner befitting your people.

Also this:

 

Now you know.

No Ranting – Just Links.

Arizona House Bill 2112, the Technical Production Services exemption, has passed the AZ Senate, and sits on Governor Ducey’s desk. Here’s what I wrote about it for the March 2015 Collaborations – the newsletter of the Desert State USITT

Arizona House Bill 2112, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, intends to remove the ability of live event technical professionals to collect unemployment. So if it passes, which seems likely, just about anyone reading this newsletter would be unable to collect unemployment compensation from the state of Arizona, even if they otherwise qualify.

The official summary says:

HB 2112 exempts technical event production services personnel from the definition of employee for purposes of the unemployment insurance (UI) program administered by the Department of Economic Security (DES).

That’s one of a long list of stoopid things the Tea & Gun party legislature is doing to our state. But I’m not going to turn this into a rant. This is a list of shorter items.

What I learned at my next-to-last board meeting (I’m currently the Secretary, but will be termed out by September) is that our DS-USITT is a unincorporated non-profit association, which means you can deduct fees or donations given tot hem from your taxes, but they can’t provide you with formal documentation.

Also, we learned that Arizona considers our traditional 50/50 raffle to support a student membership to be gambling – even if you are a lowly  unincorporated non-profit association. Because freedom.

No – not going to rant.

When driving to Tucson, don’t stop at Eloy. When I stopped there, I choked down a Carl’s Jr sandwich while surrounded by overweight white people with guns. I am an undersized, unarmed theater nerd. Ate quickly, Got out. Stop at Pichacho Peak instead. That Dairy Queen/Shell station/gift emporium was stocked by non-threatening, if unhurried old hippies.

Now – Links:

Research to replace my old tent:

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Best-Camping-Tent/ratings

What adhesive should you use? http://thistothat.com/

Someone thinks about pterosaurs. A lot.

http://www.pteros.com/pterosaurs.html

Background for my work in progress:

https://fantasticalhistory.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/background-for-the-beanstalk/

Curious Continuity looks at the barely forseeable future:

https://curiouscontinuity.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/some-visions-of-the-barely-forseable-future/

And finally, SciShow Space starts out talking about tin whisklers and ends with talking about one of this blogs regular obsessions – strange toilets.

 

Which leads us to the ESA telling you more than you might have wanted to know about that.

You’re welcome.

Now you know.

An Irish Link Dump

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!

 

http://www.historyireland.com/st-patrick/st-patrick-the-legend-and-the-bishop/

Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/mar/12/how-to-make-perfect-irish-coffee-st-patricks-day-recipe

Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.

http://www.drinkhacker.com/2008/11/01/the-best-whiskey-for-irish-coffee/

 

Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.

https://ineedcoffee.com/the-best-irish-coffee-in-the-world/

 

For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.

https://youtu.be/Hq0SBwkLvUo

Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.

http://www.livingmyths.com/Celticmyth.htm#Dagda

The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.

ancient-irish

For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.

https://www.harp.com/history-of-the-harp.htm

http://www.theharpfoundation.org/about-us/history-of-the-harp/

Now you know.

 

The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

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.

The future is still wide open

This is normally the slot where I’d post writer’s meet-up notes, but nothing came out of last night that lent itself to further investigation on-line.

So, we’ll get through a little backlog of writing tidbits. First general writing, then my writing in particular.

Patrick Nelson-Hayden (of whom I’ve written much re Westercon) on the future of e-books and science fiction.

C. Hope Clark’s Funds For Writers site with free newsletters (I subscribe to two) lots of advice and a shining example of how to promote yourself on the web. She also has a blog.

I just finished a little thing for Demand Studios. Took maybe 2 hours to crank out a 200 word article, but that’s because I had to keep tabbing over to the style guide. I get the format down, it would be an hour. Plus research. Plus re-writes. IF it all works out, I get $5 in pay-pal.

I’m not at all convinced I need the work that badly.

But I’ll update as we go.

Speaking of writing that may never make money, Agent #8 requested a synopsis along with a full manuscript.

It took me 4.5 hours to write a 2000 word synopsis.

It took the agent 2.5 days to reply.

“I’m going to pass.  This is much better than what I usually see, but I think it would be hard to sell as a middle grade book–too cynical and dark–and the young narrator makes an adult sale tricky.  It’s also too episodic to have as much suspense as the market likes.”

I could bump Jack up to age 14, and keep most of the plot intact.

But the tone and the episodic nature are deep structural things. I think the tone is a matter of opinion though. Not that its cynical -even though this is the brightest, most positive, least violent fiction I have ever written, the underlying cynicism is undeniable. How much cynicism is palatable to middle-grade readers?

A lot. My son’s bookshelf is full of horrible events and grim battle versus overwhelming darkness and so forth.

Now, how much cynicism will a middle-grade publisher tolerate from a first-time novelist?

Let’s just go ahead and see what agent #9 thinks.

We Shall See.

(Now you know…)