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 22 January 2018

Writing Report for 22 January 2018

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When I’m on day shift, as I am for most of January, I have a hard time sitting down in front of the computer for more than a few minutes. For some reason, it’s easier when I’m on nights. I’ve made some progress, but not as much as I wanted to overall. Which is okay. I’ll keep this brief so I can maybe get a few more minutes into a draft in progress.

  1. I added exactly 0 words to Shrine. It’s the first drafts that suffer when I’m on days.
  2. I’ve gotten fourteen scenes (of a planned forty) into the scene-level part of the outline for Seven Days a King.
  3. The second draft of Hero’s Life stands at 63% complete.
  4. Continue plat brainstorming for Speculative Emotion, in case this is something I want to do on my own.
  5. I’ve finished listening to the end of Series 3 of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again (ISIRTA), finding that a surprising amount of it holds up very well. There are a few cringy things that don’t really fit with a current sensibility, but most of it is good. The puns are certainly there, but there’s a lot of grammar play that goes by quickly unless you’re paying attention, even if some of it is designed to be obvious to get the laugh.

Primary focus projects remain the same for the moment, so I’ll leave things there until the next update.

Be well, everyone.

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2018 Reading Goals

2018 Reading Goals

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Stacks of books

In the last few years, I’ve stepped up my reading. There was a time in my life when I read as many as 150 books per year. Those days are gone, consigned to my life before children and real career, and probably won’t come back unless I ever manage to retire (which isn’t in the cards for a lot of members of my generation). But I do have a little more time, and there are options beyond paper these days, so I should be able consume more books than I did when the kids were smaller. In 2017 my official count is 88. My Goodreads count is a little higher, but not everything I posted a review for actually qualifies as a book in my mind.

I break things into categories every year, and this year is no exception. Targets are:

Historical Award Winners Quest: 22. I’m on a long term quest to attempt all of the novel category winners of the Hugos, Nebulas, WFA, and Auroras, chronologically give or take and giving myself the freedom to say no or not finish a book. Putting this at 22 will take me to the end of 1990, with 2 I’m skipping this year for reasons.

Last Year’s Award Winners: 6. There are 8 major English-language awards in speculative fiction, if I leave out Horror, which I do. I try to hit the 4 biggest every year (Hugo, Nebula, WFA, Aurora), and at least 2 of the others.

Cultural Breadth: 6. Because there’s more to the world than just the English speaking world, I look to broaden my experience in the genre and find interesting things in translation.

Friends’ Books: 2. So far as I’m aware right now, I have two friends who have a published novel in the last year or so and I haven’t read them yet. Time to take care of these before they publish more.

Anthologies: 6. I still love short fiction and this will help me keep reading it, new and old. There are quite a few in the house waiting to be picked up.

Non-Fiction: 15. This goal seems to grow a bit each year, and is spread across 8 different subject areas. More of the world interests me.

Martial Arts: 6. Separated out from the rest of my non-fiction reading, to further the intellectual side of my martial studies, I’d like to read a book every two months here. And the books already on this reading list will keep me busy for the next seven or eight years at that rate.

Other Fiction: 17. This looks like kind of an arbitrary number, but it’s designed to take the overall total to 80. These are books I already have or might buy just because they look like I’ll enjoy them. I never let having too many books to read stop me from bringing home more. It’s not hoarding if it’s books.

So, 80, as I clearly telegraphed under “Other Fiction”, is the target for this year, and I’m well on track so far. Of course, we’re barely half-way through January.

Be well, everyone.

And happy reading.

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2018 Writing Goals

2018 Writing Goals

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For 2018, I actually have two sets of writing goals: the publicly stated goals, which will be listed here, and the “Stretch” goals, which I’ll be keeping private until/unless I actually hit the public goals. The list follows, but I could really have split this into several different lists by category. You’ll notice a progression: novels drafting, novels editing, short fiction, non-Fiction, Year of Trek.

  1. Completed outlines for three novels to be drafted in 2019: the third book in the Destiny trilogy, the final book in the Troll World Quartet, and a sequel to Draugr Rising that may involve some transplanted Japanese mythology.
  2. Finish the first draft of Shrine. Fantasy, and the second book in a set of four.
  3. First draft of Bad Teenage Poetry. Historical fiction set in the 1980s. May or may not be reflective of some experiences I actually had, plus others. Using poetry I actually wrote in the 1980s as a teenager.
  4. First draft of Fallen Heroes. SF, sort of. Third book in the Heroes Inc
  5. Arena to final draft status.
  6. Hero’s Life to final draft status.
  7. Shrine to third draft completion.
  8. Bad Teenage Poetry revision notes.
  9. 24 short stories, length and genre unspecified. These may or may not be built into a themed collection that I may or may not do. Anticipated length range 2-7k words each.
  10. Editing on all of the Undead stories and turning this into a collection.
  11. Photography and design elements for my small haiku collection.
  12. All of the remaining Year of Trek planned projects so I can actually do this. In no particular order:
    1. USS Marathon logs recording.
    2. The rest of the “Season 3” audio drama scripts.
    3. Fractured Unity novel completion.
    4. Pointers to a lot of great fan production.
    5. Nostalgia book, comic, and merchandise reviews.
    6. Finish my favourite Star Trek meme collection.
    7. A small group of media ideas I’m keeping secret.

Seems like a lot, maybe, especially considering the trials and tribulations of last couple of years, and these are the public goals. Think about how steep the stretch goals must be.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 15 January 2018

Writing Report for 15 January 2018

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Settled down after much holiday travel, much holiday work business, and a family issue or two. I’m actually making a little progress. Blogging has been lighter, but I’ve managed to get some work done on a few projects that are easy to carry with me and don’t require a flat surface to work on. Accomplishments in the last week or so (well, let’s say since the calendar year started and give it two weeks):

  1. I actually put in a little over 3,700 words on Shrine. Setting a goal going forward of 5000 words per week, rather than a daily goal, although if I manage 715 words per day, the weekly goal takes care of itself. I have about 47% of the plot left to get done on what was originally supposed to be about a 60,000-word story and is currently sitting just a few words over 47,000.
  2. Finished the outline on Palace, the sequel to Shrine and the third book in the Troll World Quartet. Not exactly sure when I’ll get to the point of writing the actual first draft, but it’s ready when I do.
  3. I’ve also managed the outline of Seven Days a King, which will be near-future SF, if that isn’t clear from the title, to the point where it’s outlined in broad strokes and I have the scene-level detail left to go.
  4. The second draft of Hero’s Life stands at 31% complete, which sounds impressive until you understand that the second draft for me is just about addressing the notes I made of issues as I read through the story again. Third draft is the one that takes the most effort, maybe including the initial brain dump to get the story out of my head.
  5. And I did finish the final read-through draft of Draugr Rising, just before Grav-mass.
  6. Short fiction, I’ve started the basic plot brainstorming for a themed short story collection I’m labelling Speculative Emotion for the moment. The problem here is that I’m torn between writing this myself and trying to do it as a multi-author thing where it actually gets published in some fashion.
  7. On the non-fiction side of things, I’m toying with the idea of a project that looks at I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again (ISIRTA), a BBC Radio comedy show that ran from the mid-1960s into the early 70s, which I discovered on PBS in the late 80s and found online again in the last few years. Pun-filled and absurdism-riddled, this is some classic comedy history and a lot of it (but not all) still holds up fifty-plus years later. I’ve gone so far as to put together a basic outline and structure for the project.

Target projects that will get at least some effort (and remember that I’m happier working on several things at once rather than one thing at a time):

  1. The “properly” drawn and then ink versions of the strips for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic. Yes, I still haven’t gotten to this.
  2. Finishing the outline for Seven Days a King. First draft to follow at some point.
  3. Completing the first draft of Shrine. My current projection shows that, if I can keep on track with the weekly goals, this will happen at the end of the third week of February.
  4. Finish the last few reviews from my 2017 reading and turn that into the same document I’ve done for 2015 and 2016 reading lists.
  5. The second draft of Hero’s Life.
  6. Make decisions on what I want to do with the Speculative Emotion and ISIRTA

And, you know, take care of the rest of life, too.

Be well, everyone.

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2017 Reading Summary

2017 Reading Summary

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But if 2017 was a weak writing year, it was a strong one for reading. Paper, electronic, audio, I consumed a lot of written words this year.

Without going into a lot of detail, because there will be plenty when the 2017 Reading Journey file is done, my category break outs are mostly pretty favourable.

Historical Award Winners: 17, and 4 DNFs

Last Year’s Award Winners: 6, and 1 DNF

Spec Fic Breadth: 7

Other Fiction: 40, and 2 DNFs

Martial Arts: 4

Non Fiction: 16

Which I make a total of 90 books. Add to that several hundred pieces of short fiction (including almost a million words of slush pile reading as a Publishing Assistant for Bards and Sages), and hundreds of comic books, and I read a lot this year.

I hope to match or beat it in 2018.

As far as things go, I gave exactly three 5-star ratings to book-length works this year, to:

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett – the last Discworld book, and it’s entirely possible that the fifth star was due to my sadness in never getting another new story in this world again.

Abaddon’s Gate (Expanse #3) by James S. A. Corey – loving this series. Of all the works in this universe so far, only a couple of the novellas have gone below four stars. But now I’m almost caught up. One novella and one novel, and I’ll have to wait on new work with everyone else.

So, Anyway by John Cleese – I very much enjoyed Mr. Cleese’s biography, only disappointed by the fact that it left off just as Monty Python began. Hoping for a sequel.

Be well, everyone.

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Haiku on Friday

Haiku on Friday

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So there are times when I’m a haiku addict, and while I mean more writing than reading, there are several books in the house and I have a twitter stream saved that I can skim whenever I feel the need. That stream gives me a cross section from incredible to cringe, but it’s always worth the read. Often, it gives me haiku in different languages; while I can usually work out the French ones, everything else needs a little Google Translate assist when I’m in the mood.

All that said, I write a lot of haiku. It’s certainly the lion’s share of my poetry in recent years. Right now, it’s probably two or three per week, but I go through periods where I’m penning, typing, or dictating five per day, sometimes more. Probably, there have been something over a thousand in the past two years.

I’m not entirely a traditionalist. While I like the 5-7-5 format, I’ll play around with shorter versions of the same basic structure, accounting for the difference in information density of English instead of Japanese. Not all of my haiku are based on a natural image, which I suppose makes the ones that aren’t technically senryu, and a few even fit into the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.

I haven’t shared very much lately, but I used to release some into the ether regularly. Thinking it’s time I start that again, so here are a few, written sometime in the last year.

 

Drifting on cool wind

Trails of smoke above the grass

Swallowed by darkness

 

A patient old crow–

Air shimmers above the road

That will provide food

 

Holding sanchin

Ancient flutes imagined

On a thick breeze

 

Behind a closed door

Small balls of fur lie waiting

Practice combat skills

 

Leopard in a box

Curled up, seams not quite bursting

The catness shines through

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2017 Writing Summary

2017 Writing Summary

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Let’s face it, 2017 was a rather weak writing year for me.

The year came with some major life adjustments, including, in particular, a much-increased set of responsibilities at work, some family health issues, and dealing with my oldest child moving out on his own to go to school.

Less an excuse and more a set of facts, but it comes down to me only writing 42,000 words of new fiction this year. Now, there was more than 103,000 words of non-fiction, including blog posts and reviews, and I took three novels to final draft complete status, as well as detailed plots for three more, and another to a second draft complete. Short fiction was weaker on the new wordage front, but did all right under the heading of editing, as well, with every story slotted for the Undead collection at least at second draft status and some of them all the way to final.

Non-fiction fared a little better, with lots of review done, 70 or so blog posts, and the 2015 and 2016 Reading Journeys formatted and put into PDF files for easier access by people who aren’t me who have an interest.

I know that’s less of a detailed review than I usually do, but we’re into the next year now and I’m setting my sights on some pretty significant goals, which I’ll discuss another day. And, to steal a line, “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.”

Be well, everyone.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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I don’t follow the calendar much for cultural reasons, at least not for cultural reasons tied to the culture I live in. I pay attention to important dates in my family’s lives, and a couple of key things that everyone celebrates, one of which is New Year’s.

Personally, I find the January 1st designation a little arbitrary. Well, the whole calendar is a little arbitrary, really, but it’s been far less than 300 years since the New Year was moved by British Parliament to January 1st from March 25th, which I will grant is rather longer than normal human lifespans, but January 1st as the start fresh date is relatively recent, and other calendars use different dates. Personally, I’ve always thought that the calendar should be a little more tied to the physical world. Make the equinoxes and solstices the anchor points and go from there, but I didn’t get a vote.

From a more personal perspective, I prefer to count years from my own birthday, my own specific orbital completions.

But I’m stuck with what we’ve got, I suppose, like everyone else, and it does give me markers for a one-year period that would be intelligible to anyone who picks up any of my logs or posts.

So, since New Year’s is a major event in our shared calendar, I hope everyone had a happy and safe one and that 2018 unfolds in the best way possible for everyone reading this.

If that isn’t clear enough, I’ll just say be well, everyone.

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Friday Poetry for 15 December 2017

Friday Poetry for 15 December 2017

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Another from the deep vault, the date on this silly piece, according to the original file, is 02 November 1999, and it concerns possibly the greatest food ever created, pizza. Once, years before this poem, while a university student, I ate pizza for twenty-three (that’s 23) consecutive meals. Oh, not all from the same pizzeria, and not all with the same toppings, and not all at the same temperature. It is, it is, a glorious thing to be the pizza king.

 

Ah, pizza

Food of the gods

But no other food

Puts more people at odds

Anchovies, sausages

Mushrooms and cheese

Onions, green peppers

Pineapple, chick peas

Toppings galore

A list without end

How to decide

Between you and a friend

Tomatoes and ham

Ground beef, pepperoni

Baked in an oven

On a platter that’s stony

Or perhaps in a pan

Or a hot barbecue

One thing about pizza

There’s no limit for you

To cook or to slice

In sauce or in spice

The food of the gods

Is never the same twice

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That’s My Secret, Cap

That’s My Secret, Cap

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Sometimes, I wonder if it’s a bad thing that I’m angry all the time. Oh, I’m not in a bad mood, and I’m not that stressed out. While certain decisions I’ve made in life have made things harder for me in the long run, I’ve mostly done okay. I have an incredible wife and three great children. We have sufficient income for food, shelter, and to make a serious dent in the overall cost of postsecondary education for kids. I have the leisure to do things I want to do, not just things I have to do. I am lucky enough to have been born into a wealthy country, and one that has yet to elect a Prime Minister comparable to the Orange Menace currently in power south of the border. Of course, we also have yet to elect our version of Obama.

So it’s a pretty sweet life, really. I have opportunities and rights and privileges and wealth that 80% of the world would kill for. Or at least be willing to lie, cheat, or steal for.

So, why so angry?

Because, large segments of the population in the country I live in, and other rich, Western democracies, are blindly stupid and willfully ignorant about really, really important things. And some of them hold extremely significant wealth and power, and some of those think that wealth and power entitles them to shove their beliefs and views down the throats of the rest of the population. Disregarding, for the moment, how some people in my society see the rest of the world.

Looked at globally, the social trend has almost always been upwards, and mostly has been throughout human history. Trend. That doesn’t mean any particular moment, but over time.

It matters who’s in power and what their view of the world is, but large portions of the population either follow along blindly, or don’t think there’s one bit of difference between one politician and the next, one crackpot and the next, one power-hungry narcissist and the next, one world view and the next when neither of them are their own.

So we have people who believe that vaccines cause autism, that the earth is flat, that chemtrails are a thing, that the universal cure for all cancers is being kept secret in the name of profit, that it really doesn’t matter who you elect to office because they’re just going to screw things up anyway, that religion is actually a force for good in the world.

We still have people who think they are better than other people because of their skin tone, gender, sexuality, ethnic background, religion, or shoe size.

The Internet lets those people be loud, lets them find other people who have the same idiotic viewpoints, lets them shout down anyone who disagrees with their uninformed opinions. And most of us don’t shout back, because we think it’s a waste of time, because we don’t want to offend anyone, because of we think we won’t make a difference.

Most days, I can find the time to be bothered, I don’t care if it offends someone, or upsets someone, and I can make a difference, if only to onlookers. Sometimes, silence is taken as assent. And just because a minority opinion is louder than everyone around them doesn’t mean that it’s a good opinion.

I’m not particularly interested in debate, but sometimes it appears be necessary. I don’t feel like I should have to explain things to people, because mostly, people are entirely capable of reasoning things out for themselves. Some just don’t so sometimes explanations and debates are necessary.

None of this should be my problem, should it? Actually, no. It should be my problem. I should be all of our problem. Because we have to live and grow and make life better for others and the world a better place. If we don’t, who will?

There’s an old saying when you want to ignore the crazy people: not my circus, not my monkeys. I’ve made the point recently in several venues that it is my circus, and they are my monkeys. The whole world, that’s my circus, and the whole of human civilization, those are my monkeys.

And they’re yours, too.

Stay angry, my friends. And be well, everyone.

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