Author: Lance

Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than 20 stories published or on the way, and two e-books coming soon: “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, and “Turn the World Around”. And he needs a more exciting short bio.

Writing Report for 11 December 2017

Writing Report for 11 December 2017

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The busy-ness seems to continue. I didn’t get a lot done on the writing front this week and, now that I look back, that seems completely normal when I’m on day shift in the past year. Working nights, I seem to have more quiet time available.

Accomplishments rank above zero, but count mainly as blog posts. I have started plotting/outlining Palace, the third book in the Troll World quartet. Other than that, there really hasn’t been much. I hope the next couple of weeks will be better, in spite of the Holiday season, as I have a couple of extra days off here and there (although not the standard holidays themselves).

Targets for effort:

  1. The “properly” drawn and then ink versions of the strips for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic.
  2. Trying to finish the final draft of Draugr Rising.
  3. Completing the first draft of Shrine the second of the Troll World books. Hopefully, I’ll squeeze enough words into this during December that I can get polish the draft off in January.
  4. Detailed outline of the third Troll World book, Palace.
  5. Once the comic strips are done, I’ll move onto the next piece of the Year of Trek posts, nostalgia generating Books, Comics, Merchandise.
  6. The second draft of Hero’s Life.

Let’s see how this goes.

Be well, everyone.

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Friday Poetry for 08 December 2017

Friday Poetry for 08 December 2017

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From the vault. The note in the original file is that it’s on the occasion of my almost ten-month-old son’s third cold. He’ll be turning 19 shortly.

 

Few things shake your soul

Like a baby with a cold

Pick me up, put me down

Turn me over, turn me around

Go away, come here, go away

No, wait, I want you to stay

I’m tired, can’t sleep

I’m hungry, won’t eat

I’m thirsty, won’t drink

Just pour the milk down the sink

Short naps in the bed

Rub my tummy, rub my head

Daddy’s tired, needs a rest

Mama-mama (likes her best)

Cry and scream, scream and cry

Daddy needs a quiet place to lie

Mommy’s home, at last, at last

Pass the baby, quickly, fast

Daddy sits and sighs, he’s rather glad

Then comes the scream, I want my dad!

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I Should Be A Tragically Hip Fan

I Should Be A Tragically Hip Fan

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With thanks to the CBC for the image.

So, I’ve never really been a Tragically Hip fan.

There are plenty of reasons I should be, the least of which is that I’m related to one of the band members on my mother’s side, not that I’ve seen him since I was a little kid. As close as I’ll get to name-dropping.

Far more importantly, the tragically hip is a Canadian success story, on a similar level, although perhaps with a touch less longevity, as Rush or Neil Young. Their lyrics are intelligent, clever, often poetic. That’s right up my alley. The music is a blend of pop and some not quite identifiable sound that makes them distinctly Canadian. They’ve been successful commercially worldwide for three decades.

I should be a Tragically Hip fan, I’m just not.

I don’t dislike their music, and I can probably name a dozen of their songs, even sing along with a couple, but I don’t own a single album, I’ve never felt the urge to buy one, and it never would have bothered me to turn off the radio or TV while they were playing. Weird.

But it doesn’t matter if I’m not particularly a fan, because I can recognize the band as an iconic Canadian group. And I can recognize that their loss to the musical landscape is a tragedy. They have been a huge musical and cultural influence in the country, and beyond, projecting a Canadian sound to ears that would otherwise never have heard.

Some other artist or group will step up to fill the gap, I hope. It won’t be today, or tomorrow, or maybe even anytime soon. And really, the gap will be forever present in some way, because whoever does come forward to fill it will do so with a different sound and a different shape, and but they’ll be distinctly Canadian in their own way, or at least I hope so.

Be well, everyone.

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I Think I Hate Christmas

I Think I Hate Christmas

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Really. Christmas sucks in a lot of ways and I’m just about as sick of it as I can get. Writing that, I’m fairly convinced I’ll be even more sick of it next year.

Hear me out for a minute.

Major retail outlets start having a Christmas section sometime in August, more than four months before the actual holiday itself. I (like everyone else) am supposed to spend hundreds of dollars on decorations and thousands of dollars on gifts every year, plus whatever the annual holiday feast is supposed to cost. Spend, spend, spend.

To get me in the mood, those same retail outlets move to a Christmas music format the instant Halloween is over, in some cases before.

Don’t forget cards and wrapping paper. And gift tags; those are far more important than you know. All single-use stuff.

Open your wallet and spend.

Extra events, extra travel. Did you notice the price of gas go up?

Spend, spend, spend. Rack up a little more debt. Mortgage your future so you don’t look like a cheapskate this Christmas. You’ve got the rest of your life to pay it down.

The forced togetherness. I want to get together with my friends and family because we want to, not because society tells me that’s what we have to do. I actually like my family even, though she may be shocked to learn it, my sister, in spite of the fact that we have to be very careful about the subjects that come up in conversation or we wind up arguing.

The “War” on Christmas. Why does anyone think anyone else cares how they celebrate a holiday? I just need certain people to stop telling me how I need to celebrate it. While we’re on the subject, those same folks also need to stop whining about how no one can make them stop saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and force them to say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead. I hope you have a merry Christmas. I hope it’s everything you want it to be. But ‘Happy Holidays’ is more inclusive, takes in unknowns, and recognizes that there are huge numbers of people, even in the country I live in, who celebrate something other than Christmas. They deserve a little joy, too, don’t they?

And every year, the Salvation Army trying to pass itself off as a charity. The Salvation Army is a church, as noted in multiple places on their website. Their mission statement contains the phrase “exists to share the love of Jesus Christ”. Their core values are “Salvation, Holiness and Intimacy with God”. Church. Religion. They may do charitable works, though they’re not accountable to anyone for how or how much they happen to deliver.

All the money we spend could actually do something other than make the pile in our local landfill bigger. If you spend $1000 on Christmas crap (which is pretty light for a lot of families these days), how much good could you have done by getting it to an actual charity that does actual work to help actual people.

Stop telling me I have to be cheerful because it’s Christmas. I don’t. Not today, not tomorrow, and not because it’s Christmas. Maybe I’ve got mental health issues and I don’t need you making me feel guilty because I’m not cheerful. Maybe my life situation is hard at the moment. Maybe I’m just not a cheerful guy.

And no, by the way, I don’t want to go to your (or any) church or community centre for the special Christmas service/pageant/choir. I’m good, thanks.

Christmas just digs us in deeper, individually and collectively. As it’s currently celebrated in our culture, it’s a blight on the face of our personal finances, our economy, and our society.

So, yeah, I hate Christmas. More every year.

But I totally want you to have a merry one, or Channukah, or Yule, or Kwanza, or Festivus, or whatever you happen to celebrate. Enjoy the season. Enjoy your celebration. Enjoy the people you spend it with. But I want everyone to be happy and healthy all the time, not just at Christmas, and I want us all to look out for each other and to make the world a better place.

And that’s not always easy.

But it’s always worthwhile.

Be well, everyone.

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Miyazato-Sensei Was A Wise Man

Miyazato-Sensei Was A Wise Man

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I’ve been studying karate for closing in on nine years now, and I get a lot out of it, mentally, physically, psychologically, socially. It’s become an important part of my life and health, and I hope to continue that for the rest of my life.

My Sensei fairly often quotes Eiichi Miyazato-Sensei, the founder of the Jundokan (the Okinawan home of one of the two flavours of karate I practice), on a particular subject that doesn’t initially seem to promote karate, at least until you think about it a little. It probably sounds cooler in the original language, but still comes through fairly well in English:

“Family first, then work, then karate.”

Substitute your passion of choice for karate.

The point being that anything after your family’s wellbeing and the support of your family takes a distant third place.

It seems simple. Or it should.

So, for everything I do, there should be a series of three questions.

Does it help my family?

Does it help my career without harming my family?

Does it further a dream without harming my family or career?

If I can’t answer yes to at least one of these, there’s a fourth, obvious question: why the heck am I doing it?

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 04 December 2017

Writing Report for 04 December 2017

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So not much to report, really. I’ve had a busy, stressful week. Probably, that means I should be writing more. Or, you know, at all.

Actually, I got a little bit done in the way of blog posts in the past week, but not much more. I’m not stalled on anything, exactly. I just don’t have the energy at the moment. Too much taking up the energy I do have, so when I sit down to the keyboard, I’m more likely to be skimming through news or other information on the internet.

Lots of reading. Not much writing.

This too shall pass.

Be well, everyone.

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Friday Poetry

Friday Poetry

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Words strewn across a page

Can capture any age

Express random thoughts

Show battles won or fought

A moment set in time

An image held in mind

Encourage ideas

Share hopes and dreams and fears

Persuade or strike a blow

Or merely say hello

Any voice can be heard

By simple, printed word

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Easing Back on Social Networking

Easing Back on Social Networking

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So I think I spend too much time on social networking.

And, let’s be honest, most of that is on Facebook lately. I still enjoy Twitter, but I treat that primarily as an information source. I lurk a lot because I find it too difficult to have a nuanced discussion or argument with somebody 140 280 characters at a time. Facebook allows me more than just a snarky comment.

I have an Instagram account, which gets a few photos here and there. Most of those are of my dog or my cats, sometimes of something I’ve seen outside somewhere. It’s not exciting, but it entertains me.

I have a LinkedIn account which I didn’t touch for about four years, but I’ve recently decided to start updating a little bit. I started a few weeks ago, making the decision to update my work history. I haven’t gotten much farther.

But Facebook, much as I enjoy it, is a time sink, and a lot of the time sunk into it really serves no purpose.

It’s a great point of social contact, the daily reminders of people’s birthdays are nice, and the system lets you keep in touch with people without all that pesky phone conversation or letter writing, and makes sure you can never completely lose touch with old friends, so long as they’re on Facebook, too.

But it’s very, very easy to get lost in the infinite scroll of cat photos and other memes, pseudo-articles and not-quite-advertising, pictures of places you’ll never go, and gross stupidity.

Let’s be honest, you don’t really care what I had for breakfast. (In case you do, it was toast. It’s always toast.) Probably, you don’t much care what I did last night unless it was particularly interesting. I’m not going to answer any of your game requests and I will not like and share, nor will I copy and paste, and I will absolutely, positively not type amen. I may laugh if you post something I find funny, cry if it’s something worthy of tears, and like some of the accomplishments you put in your highlight reel.

But there’s too much.

Apparently, I have something close to 400 friends on Facebook. I don’t feel like I ever see posts from some of them, and there are people I’m surprised when I do see something. And, yes, there are people who I’ve hidden because I can’t stand the stuff they do post and discussions are either fruitless or not worth my time in the first place. I’ve had some great discussions and arguments on Facebook. Occasionally, hearts and minds of change. That’s never the objective, but it’s cool when it happens on either side.

It’s still too much. It takes too much of my time.

Frankly, it’s interfering with my life goals. And I’ve got a lot of those. I have things I want to do, places I want to go, sights I want to see, a world to make a better place. A lot of what I do on social networking isn’t helping me work towards any one of those.

But that’s on me, not you. I’m the one using too much of my time scrolling.

There’s a meme about how someone can’t go to bed because someone is wrong on the internet.

Lovingly borrowed from XKCD.com

Surprise, someone is wrong on the internet. Someone is always wrong on the internet. But unless they’re endangering other people or deliberately lying to them, is it worth a response? Or is it better to leave people in their own echo chambers? I often consider that silence can be taken as implied assent or agreement, so I frequently respond with a quick google search or a link. Sometimes it’s even worthy of a discussion.

But I need to consider my own time, too, and whether the audience is even there to begin with. If no one is responding, is it worth the time and energy? Isn’t it better to leave the echo chamber as it is?

Right now, every article, every link, every post gets considered before I click on it, react to it, or comment. Will this improve my life or those around me? If I can’t come up with a compelling agreement, then maybe I should just move on, or stop scrolling altogether.

I enjoy seeing what you’re up to, what you’re doing with your kids, what you just accomplished, the cool place or thing you just saw. I want to talk about philosophy or politics or religion or major events to keep my brain working, and sometimes to keep my blood warm.

But it’s too much. It’s taking too much of my time.

I’m not going to finish my current writing project sitting in front of Facebook. I’m not going to get farther than playing the C-Major scale on my saxophone sitting in front of Facebook. I’m not going to hike to the top about Mount Fuji sitting in front of Facebook. I’m not going to go back to school for the degree I actually want sitting in front of Facebook. I’m not going to get back into the appropriate shape to run a marathon or complete a triathlon sitting in front of Facebook.

There’s an old cliché about how no one in their deathbed wishes they’d spent more time at work. The same can be said about social media.

I’m around, just a little less, and only on the things I think are truly important, or to remind people I remember they exist and appreciate that. And maybe to bring you a feel or two.

Things to do, places to go, people to see. I may even post about it. And I may react when you do. We have to live, to experience, to exist aside from just reacting.

Be well, everyone.

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Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk

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Conversation is important. Meaningful conversation is important. And I don’t mean the way that men and women talk to each other or separately, because yes, evolution has provided more than one set of basic wiring and we don’t talk or communicate the same way, and yes, some of that can be divided at least partially along gender lines even as we recognize gender (like everything else) as being on a spectrum. And we can overcome evolution, but it’s hard.

What I mean is more in terms of when I’m having a conversation, I want to talk about things of consequence. I don’t care if it’s raining or if the grass is green or the carpet is still ugly today. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t bring any joint my life. I seem to be adapting the phrase “life is too short” in several ways lately, but life is too short to spend time talking about inconsequential things. Nothing gets fixed and nothing gets better by my telling you it’s a nice day and you agreeing.

I want to talk about politics and religion and philosophy and major events in the world. And I want to talk about how my kids are doing in school and how yours are and how their experiences are different and how we’re helping them to adapting to a ridiculously stressful world. I want to find things out about you to figure out where you’re coming from, where you’re going, what you think, and how we can find common ground to stand on. I want to talk about things that matter, to you, to me, everyone.

There is no subject that is or should be off-limits.

Why doesn’t our society have a proper line dividing church and state?

How do we find a way to talk about the terrorist attacks in Las Vegas or London or Baghdad or Mogadishu or the Philippines that doesn’t send either side of the relevant social arguments off on a tirade?

How that last natural disaster really knocked us all on our asses and what we can do to actually prepared for the next. Or mitigate those coming in the farther future.

How we can help our American friends get rid of the orange menace who somehow got himself elected, without breaking any laws are opening ourselves up to being sued.

Is China’s human rights record really is bad as I think it is or am I remembering things from 20 years ago and just deciding that that’s the way things always are?

Talk to me, argue with me, fight with me. But do it about things that matter.

Not all communication matters, but it all has the potential to. It all could.

But it doesn’t.

A lot of noises we make day-to-day are just that, noises. Social lubricant so our brains don’t have to work too hard and get overheated, so we can avoid thinking too hard about each other because then we’ll have to try actually understanding each other. Sure, sometimes small talk can actually purpose, when you’re feeling around the edges of something important, trying to figure out where someone stands or to approach a difficult conversation situation. But most of the time, not so much.

So, let’s discuss, argue, fight. Rationally, and with consideration for each other. Remembering that while ideas don’t deserve respect, people do.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 27 November 2017

Writing Report for 27 November 2017

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Okay, it’s been a while, and life has been super hectic with lots of stuff going on. I haven’t been writing an awful lot, so this will be a quick rundown on what little I have accomplished in the last month and where I stand on various projects.

First, completions:

  1. The first draft of the Haiku book is complete. A little revision due here and then some layout and cover art.
  2. Reading Journey PDF files for 2015 and 2016 are done. 2017 is left for a January finish. After all, it’s still 2017 and I’m still expecting to read more this year.
  3. Second draft finished on all of the selected stories for The Undead.
  4. Outline complete for Converging Destiny, sequel to Universal Destiny. I hope to write the first draft next year.

Where I’m making (or not) progress:

  1. Still haven’t done the “good” versions of the strips for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic. After that, inking and scanning.
  2. Almost exactly 50% through the final draft of Draugr Rising.
  3. I’m just half a scene shy of the halfway mark in Shrine. A long way to go. Seems unlikely I’ll finish the first draft by the end of the year, but it won’t be too far into January.

Where I’d like to go next:

  1. Detailed outline of the third Troll World book, Palace.
  2. The next piece of the Year of Trek posts, nostalgia generating Books, Comics, Merchandise.
  3. The second draft of Hero’s Life.

So, I need the rest of my life to be less busy so I can get back to work.

Be well, everyone.

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