Look at that. All this “extra” time, and I’m actually moving forward on a bunch of creative stuff. In this case, my second live ebook this week. Trollsign is serializing for free on Wattpad, where it’s about three-quarters complete. If you like it enough to have a copy of your very own, or if you want to know how it ends sooner than the ending will post, well, here’s your chance. I’ve posted links for both Amazon.ca and Amazon.com below.
I have some covers to build, but I’m hoping to manage a short story (maybe two), a Novelette, and a Novel in the next couple of weeks. In and among all of the things I’m supposed to be getting done around the house.
For my Canadian folks, yes, the prices on ebooks are kind of weird. For Amazon, they’re set on the US side of things and the exchange rate is actually kind of crappy at the moment. My apologies for that. I’m actually toying with the idea of my own store so I can fix that a bit.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
And along came COVID-19.
Or, as a great poet once wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”
Since the last post on 22 February, I have drafted, or least dictated and mostly edited, eight different blog posts. They will all probably still happen at some point but will likely need a little bit of updating or alteration first.
The last couple of weeks have been fairly hectic, particularly the last seven or eight days as my company, a gaming company with typically large venues, joins the growing list of companies to “temporarily suspend operations”. The OLG, a crown corporation of the Government of Ontario made the announcement forcing us closed about 17 hours before the scheduled release of the information that our parent company would be doing that for all of its operations across the country. The government announcement came late on Sunday afternoon and by midnight my place of business was shut down and something close to 90% of the people who work there had been informed that, until such time as the government lifts the closure, they will not be coming to work. Of the few of us who remained, we generated a list of things that have to be done in order to both close the building and to be ready to reopen. The four of us left in my department, and almost immediately down to three by a self-isolation, came up with a list that could probably keep us busy with those necessary tasks for about three weeks. We had hoped to be able to get most of the stuff done before the Board of Directors made the next expected call, which they did on Thursday morning, to just get the critical stuff as most of the rest of us would be leaving work by the end of Friday.
I understand the basics of capitalism, and that if there is no income, there is no outgo. Oh, companies can get through short periods, and sometimes not so short periods, where they are spending more than they are taking in, but there is always point where that changes. When there is zero income, it has to change very quickly and very severely. Lots of companies and people are discovering that at the moment.
For me, for the duration, that means I have about 50 hours of newly-free time per week. It also means that my family’s income takes a significant hit, and things are going to suck financially for a while, but we’re not even vaguely alone in that, or even in the minority now. We will adjust as we can.
But I have five workdays back for the next few weeks or however long until the government begins to lift restrictions.
And so I have lists.
A list of things to be done daily, that will, hopefully, ultimately leave the house sparkling.
A list of things to be done two or three times per week in the same direction.
A list of things to be done weekly, and many of those are animal-related things as we’re more or less a giant snake and a small crocodile away from having our own zoo. Not really an exaggeration, but a post for another day.
A list of things to be done to the house that I already have what I need to take care of. Yardwork, a bathroom ceiling fan, and so on.
A big list of creative things. Writing and editing and publishing and blogging, and maybe this time when I can actually make major headway on certain other creative projects that I haven’t really mentioned out loud.
And, of course, a list of things to keep myself healthy and sane. Martial arts and geocaching and just being outside for fresh air now and then.
Above all, though we may be spread across the house, I have time to be with my family.
I hope also to be able to participate in things that help my friends and community to help us all take care of ourselves and each other.
For me, today is Day 1 of finding a new routine and making use of those lists. My Day 1 is later than some and earlier than others, but we are all in this together in some fashion.
For the duration of the current troubles and beyond, please try to take care of yourselves and be well, everyone.by
Introducing, Princess Buttercup!
Almost accidentally, we brought home a ball python on Boxing Day.
I won’t go into the major details, but a young man going through some massive life changes at the moment has found himself in a position where he has to re-home many of the reptiles he’s been keeping the last few years. My son had been looking pretty hard at a pair of Green Ameiva in the same ad, and we had the trip planned.
On arriving, we saw that there were a number of other animals potentially available, and we wound up taking home two of the snakes, one, a young, and still quite small, corn snake of the Bubblegum Snow variety. This one was technically for my oldest daughter, who’s had a Sunglow (or possibly Sunkissed is the current common name) Corn Snake since she was nine years old and has several times expressed interest in getting a female to go with him to see if they might consider breeding so we can raise a clutch of eggs. This one happens to be a female, although she’s not nearly big enough to go in with Sonic yet, we don’t think, but we’ll see how soon we can bring her size up. She is quite cute, but has no name yet. More on her another time, once we’ve settled on a name.
For me, I’ve always enjoyed the look of ball pythons. The head shape is quintessentially snake, I think. And, in some ways, you can describe them as the perfect reptilian pet. They don’t eat that often, so you don’t scoop that often, it’s fairly easy to get their living conditions correct, they are not fantastically active, generally slow moving, and seem to love being handled, and they almost never show any real sign of aggression.
And in this case, I love the soft colors, which come out even more in real lighting. Here she is having her first bath at our house. There are still some bits of her last shed clinging and she’s too pretty to let that go.
By the time this posts, she’ll have had more than a full day to get comfortable in the 20 gallon long tank we had in the basement than she likely was in the 10 gallon she came in. I hope to upgrade to an even larger size in the near future, give her plenty of space to move around in if she wants to. She’s been in that small tank for a little while, and while that’s supposedly okay for snakes, general guidelines are a half square foot for every foot of snake to give them a little room. I feel like we the tank should be at least as long as the snake to give them space to stretch out completely, but I may be in the minority there based on what I’ve read so far. Either way, I’d like to get her into at least a 40 gallon tank in the near future, maybe even larger, with a bit of height to make her world more interesting.
I don’t know if all the extra space will make a difference to her, so long as we get all of the things she needs in the tank for her general psychological well being, but it will make a difference to me.
In the meantime, to borrow a line, she was once a commoner like yourselves, but perhaps you will not find her common now. I give you Princess Buttercup.
(Sadly, my wife does not agree that we at least need a Dread Pirate Roberts, if not Inigo, Fezzik, Vizzini… someday, perhaps. It’s worth noting that one of my daughters has suggested Pinky and the Brain for the two new additions, but that seems weird to me. They’d eat laboratory mice, so it seems a little creepy to me to name them after a food source.)
Be well, everyone.by
by Now that stuff is signed and sent back, I think I’m free to say that I’ve accepted a part-time gig as a Publishing Assistant for Bards and Sages Publishing. Bards and Sages is a small publishing house doing both fiction and RPG materials in digital and paper formats, as well as hosting the annual EFestival of Words. Duties to include slush reading, copy editing, and whatever else the publisher decides they need me to do.
Embarking on a new adventure is always fun, and I’m very much looking forward to this one. Now, it appears I already have assignments to read.
Be well, everyone.
by Similar category breakdowns to last year, but stretching things a little bit. I spent a lot of reading time last year on the comic book side of things, getting four years closer to the present in my X-men quest than I’d originally planned. Maybe I can balance a little better in 2016.
This year’s categories:
- Award Winners: starting on a quest to read all of the novel-length winners for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Aurora awards. Starting with the first Hugo and working my way forward. # Books: 25 this year.
- Last Year’s English Language Awards: because I shouldn’t have to wait to catch up to the present, I’m planning the 2015 winners for the four awards I mentioned above plus, maybe, The British SF Award (UK), the Aurealis Awards (Australia), and the Sir Julius Vogel (New Zealand). # Books: 8.
- Cultural Speculative Fiction: picking three non-English speaking countries this year, and maybe going forward, to read a novel and an anthology (in translation) from. # Books: 6.
- Anthologies I’m In: self-explanatory. # Books: unknown at this time. Well, 0 at the moment, but I hope that number goes up.
- Friend’s Books: also seems self-explanatory. # Books: 2.
- Martial Arts: furthering the intellectual side of my martial arts studies, and pushing hard towards my hopeful Nidan grading, sometime in the next 12-18 months. # Books: 10.
- Non-Fiction Breadth: pushing this category a bit this year with eight subject areas. # Books: 10.
If you’re counting, that says I’d like to read 61 books this year (and it could be 62 because one of the award winners from 2015 is a sequel, so I may need that first), plus any anthologies I place a story in. Might be pushing things a little, but I hit 56 on a goal of 40 last year, and I’ve come to the belief that if you’re reaching all your goals, you’re not making them big enough.
What are you reading?
Be well, everyone.by
by In some respects, my writing took a huge nose dive this in 2015. While I completely destroyed my non-fiction writing goals, I didn’t do an awful lot of fiction at all.
But 2015 is over now, and 2016 is a new year. Well, every day can be the first one of a new year, but I spent the last few weeks of 2015 planning and plotting, and I’m hitting the ground running, or at least staggering forward.
There are daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and annual goals for 2016 in the creative field, but I’m going to stick with the broad strokes for this post and, once again, try to get back to the monthly writing reports to keep myself honest and maybe motivated.
Project 1: The Undead
This is a big project that I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done on it so far, there just hasn’t been much this year. I have 23 stories left to cover the creatures I want to cover at the level I want to cover, at least the basic idea for each of them, at a broad range of lengths from flash to novelette.
Project 2: Other Short Fiction
Whatever number it takes to get me to 50 pieces of short fiction drafted this year. Right now that stands at 27.
Project 3: First Draft Epic Fantasy Novel
I’ve gone back to something I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years as the story that’s speaking to me loudest right now, torn apart the original idea, and I’ve started rough-working and re-plotting.
Project 4: Universal Destiny
To be edited and polished to Beta Reader stage, then get some Beta Readers to have a look at it. I’ve started on a few revision notes already.
Project 5: Haiku
I used to love writing poetry, but in recent years I’ve treated it as something to do when I don’t feel like writing fiction. That changes in 2016. Actually, it already has. I’m trying to write poetry for poetry’s sake. The primary poetry goal (and I’ve got several) is to write 500 haiku this year. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only three every two days.
Project 6: Short Fiction Submissions
100 of them for the year. This is a target I’ve missed twice before, but it’s only 8.5 submissions per month, so what’s my problem here?
Project 7: Previously Completed Novels/Collections
Ancient Runes, Graceland, Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu all to get final reads and tweaks this year, and then I need to figure out what to do with each of them.
Okay, that looks like a lot when it’s all written out, but remember it’s for an entire year. Of course, I have a couple of other creative goals for this year, too, but those will come about in their own time as other things allow, although I will schedule specific time for them.
But this is the year I remember I’m a writer.
Be well, everyone.by
by I’m keeping last year’s resolutions in force, without feeling the need for new ones. I like the old ones, they still apply, and it’s hard being human sometimes, so I’ll continue to make mistakes.
Resolution One: Get Better At The Husband And Father Thing
This seems to get harder as the kids get older, as all of our lives get busier. We’re moving into the years where they’re slowly getting ready to leave home and lead completely independent lives. I have one in his last year of high school, one in her first, and one who turns thirteen in a short time. They’ve all got different needs and different things going on and different personalities. I have to adapt to that on a regular basis, and my wife has to adapt to those same pressures.
Resolution Number Two: Be Kind.
Easy to let slide even a little when your stress level is high. Be kind to myself, be kind to others, be kind to the planet, and if I’m accidentally unkind to one of my fellow creatures, rule number 2 applies: When you screw up, admit it, fix it, learn from it, and move on.
Think bigger, think broader, and think kinder. Think about where the other being is coming from and what their situation might be and how they may see things. Disagreement is okay, being a jerk isn’t. Take on ideas, not people.
Resolution Three: Be Polite.
Politeness costs nothing, and it can gain you so much. Something else higher stress will allow you to forget sometimes, so I suppose the trick is to address the stress without forgetting the rest.
Resolution Four: Be More Well Read.
This isn’t quite the same thing as reading more, although to get to be more well read, you have to read more. Being more well read takes time, so while it may be an infinitely renewable new year’s resolution, it’s probably one I’ll never be satisfied with, and that’s okay. There’s another post coming in a few days regarding the reading goals I’ve set for myself this year, at least in broad strokes. Individual titles may be more fluid than the list I’ve set myself, but I’ve set a 2016 Reading List shelf on Good Reads if anyone is curious to what’s currently on it. The list starts the year with 62 titles, 20 of which are non-fiction. Although, at the moment, there are only 59 on the Good Reads list as three titles are for 2015 speculative fiction awards that haven’t been announced yet.
Resolution Five: Think More Intelligently
I almost just copied and pasted a big piece of last year’s note here. Because it’s still true: I’m prone to introspection, and to nostalgia, and to overthinking things. It’s going to be another long term goal to train myself to think more carefully and quicker. My first instinct isn’t always the best response, but recognizing when it isn’t takes practice, and getting to that best doesn’t have to take all day.
So there are my resolutions for 2016. Feel free to borrow what you like from this little bit of rambling or let me know if there’s something you like better.
Be well, everyone.by
by So, Legends and Lore officially releases on Wednesday, although the e-version is already available on Amazon. I’m excited about this anthology in a way I’m not sure I have been before, and I think it’s mainly due to the Release Party on Facebook.
(Click the banner to go to the event page.)
This happens on Wednesday, and while full details are on the FB page (games, prizes, questions and answers), I’d like to point out that it runs from 7-1130 pm Eastern Time, with each half hour belonging to a different author in the anthology. I’ve drawn the second half hour, which means my time is 730-8 Eastern, and fairly early in the game, but I’m going to stay for as much of the party as I can. This is a book with nine great stories in it (if I’m allowed to include mine in the count), and the group of writers involved have worked very hard to bring some great fiction.
Drop by, hang out, ask something. Above all, have fun.
And I’ll add in that today’s stop on the official Blog Tour, on Inspired Writers, features a short interview with me, which is neat but still a little odd.
Be well, everyone.
We’ll call this announcement number two, but I think I’ve spoiled it long before now.
Legends and Lore is an anthology coming out from Xychler Publishing (or on Facebook) on October 22nd. If it isn’t obvious, I have a story in it. Here’s the particularly awesome cover:
Legends and Lore releases on October 22nd just in time for all that Halloween gift giving you’ve got in mind. No, it isn’t a horror anthology. Very much fantasy, and very much worth the read if you’re a fan of the genre.
My story, “Natural Order”, could, I suppose, be classed as Urban, Modern, or Legendary Fantasy, or all three, if you like. It clocks in at 7,247 words and misses being the shortest story in the book by 15. Yes, this is fantasy you can sink your teeth into. Depth, drama, danger, devotion, and other exciting words that start with other letters of the alphabet.
Table of Contents:
“The Brother-Sister Fable” by Alyson Grauer
“Faelad” by Sarah Hunter Hyatt
“By Skyfall” by Emma Michaels
“Charon’s Obol” by R. M. Ridley
“Peradventure” by Sarah E. Seeley
“Natural Order” by Lance Schonberg
“Two Spoons” by Danielle E. Shipley
“Grail Days” by A. F. Stewart
“Downward Mobility” by M. K. Wiseman
I won’t spoil any of them, even mine, but you’ll probably get some tidbits of each if you come to the release party on Facebook on October 22nd. Yup, the same day the book actually releases. I’ll post details on that as they’re released.
And be well, everyone.
The 8th of September, 2016 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the first time Star Trek was broadcast on television.
This makes 2016 a special year. Fifty years of Star Trek.
Unfortunately, the only thing Paramount has announced so far is the third in the mediocre reboot movies. (Yes, mediocre. At best. Discussion for another day.) I hope for more, and I’m sure there will be a flurry of books, mostly with subjects we’ve seen before, but some new stuff mixed in. A little original fiction would be nice, too.
But I feel like it’s unlikely to be enough to pay tribute to the show that started a revolution in science fiction, that pushed boundaries, and that presented big ideas, and that has inspired several generations of scientists, engineers, and fans.
Fortunately, I’m willing to bet that the fan community will step up and provide more content in the Star Trek universe than ever before.
There is far more Star Trek fan fiction than any other kind, and a surprising amount of it is good. Video, audio, animation, graphic storytelling, it’s all out there. And I think there’s a lot more coming, and a lot of it to celebrate.
I’m intending to produce some myself. Actually, not intending. I’ve already started. Yes, 2016 is still a year and a half away, but I’ve got a lot on the go (most of us do) so I’m starting early. I’m not going to spoil anything at this point, but I’ve got a lot planned. If I can manage even half of it, I’ll be thrilled to add my own tiny bit to the universe.
The original series holds a special place in my geeky little heart, and since it’s really the fiftieth anniversary of that we’ll be celebrating, that’s the era I intend to work in exclusively. Yes, it’s been mined extensively, but there’s always room for another story and there are characters who haven’t had the attention they deserve. There will probably be a separate blog to avoid confusion on anyone’s part and to be clear that I’m not interested in making any money from whatever Trek endeavors I launch.
To be clear, it’s going to be fun. If you’re a Star Trek fan, I hope you tune in.
More as it becomes needed.
Be well, everyone.