Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Music

I wore side three of this double-live album out when I was a lot younger than I am now. It was also one of the first CDs I bought when I converted over. It got a spin this weekend at full volume because



XAAAAAANNNNAAAAAAADUUUUUUUUUUUUU…..



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pieces and Bits


Lots going on here at Greengate. Planet Comicon is less than a month away and winter is hopefully winding down. So it's time for some updates.

***

There are a bunch of short stories that have been just sitting in a folder on my desktop that needed to go somewhere. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I've contracted with a professional editor (who's also a friend - a frienditor?) to help me whip a few of those stories into shape. I made a decision to self-publish the stories mostly as an experiment but also because it's been ten years since I self-published anything. Time to dip back into the pool.

The plan is for two stories to debut at the show in paper form, exclusive to that show. Limited editions, as it were. I'll doodle a sketch on the cover and if you purchase both pamphlets I'll get you a link to download an audio version of a third story. I'm still working that part out but it'll happen.

Prospects is the story of a bodyguard at loose ends. Mrak is the sort of person who has to work and the lure of a job he's been warned against is too much to resist.

The Masking Job is an ode to old time radio programs. The main character is a hit man who doesn't just kill people, he removes their existence completely.

What Is Best In Life is a revenge tale. Cold, sweet revenge.

***

I don't necessarily identify the race of a character unless they're an alien. I want the reader to project themselves on the characters and I think giving them skin color is limiting. Am I wrong?

You don't need me to tell you that there are an extraordinary amount of characters in science fiction who are white and male. And humanoid. Not that any non-humans are reading my stuff, but this article from i09 kinda makes the same point. Things aren't weird enough in SF, not like some of it used to be anyway. I think there's a comfort in homogenization. Anyway, if my main character is humanoid, I'm not telling the reader what she looks like, except to maybe give some vague physical characteristics, just not skin color or even ancestry.

Trying to create new cultures is difficult.

***

I prefer to be barefoot in my home (or in winter with socks on or some very comfortable moccasin house shoes) but working at the desk requires me to put shoes on so my legs don't get too tired. I can live with that. I'm working about 30 - 45 minutes at a time standing and then alternating by sitting for a bit. Eventually I feel like I'll get to standing more for longer times. I like this set up.

***

Reading three books at the same time. The only SF anthology I read every year is David Hartwell's Year's Best SF and the current volume is #18. It really is the best of the best. Also reading Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer but not in any sort of organized way. If you put it with Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist it makes a good deal of sense. Highly recommended. Also reading The King in Yellow because I'm watching True Detective. Now if someone had hooked me up with Chambers' book twenty-five years ago while I was devouring all the Lovecraft I could find I would have eaten this book up. As it is, I'm balancing it with the other two books but it's so good I could just get lost in it. I can't do that with all the stuff I've got going on but it's amazing.

***

Using 4'x4' boxes in the home garden this year and generally gussying up the vegetable space. This year, more flowers too. We're spending some time outside when it's warm and the ground hasn't been covered with snow and that's good. I recommend that for all of you. Put down the book, turn off the TV, close the computer and go outside.

I can't wait for it to warm up more consistently so I can get back to walking on a regular basis.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Jobs

Not now son, I've got a job to do.
We all have them, a lot of us get paid to do them. There are benefits associated with them and there are headaches to go along with them, too.

Some of us don't have jobs. Some people don't want jobs, other people are desperately seeking jobs. Anything. Sometimes you might be qualified for a job and not get hired. Sometimes you are really NOT qualified for a job and you get it and then you wonder what the hell your employers were thinking when they hired you.

Jobs are important. They can give us a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment. When we complete a job like washing the dishes or taking out the trash we can see that something has been done, an acheivement has been unlocked. Sometimes it's a lot harder to see that completing a job has led to anything meaningful.

But jobs are not just nine to five or eleven to seven or midnight to eight. They're not just Monday through Friday or Wednesday through Saturday or just Tuesday and Thursday. They're things that have to be done around the house, for your parents or grandparents, or your significant other. Sometimes jobs are big sometimes they're small. Sometimes they're vitally important and sometimes they're just something that will make you feel better.

Jobs bring people to your house to take things away for other people to do jobs with, like the mail or the trash or recycling. Jobs can take you to other people's house to do things for them, like putting on a roof or cable or utility problems that have to be solved. Jobs can take you on a long trip or even an adventure. Jobs are just plain cool, eh?

Some people have jobs working for themselves. Some jobs involve not leaving the house. It doesn't take a rich person not paying taxes to create a job. Anyone can do it.

Sometimes creating jobs is a full-time job in itself.

Everything that you buy, that you consume is produced by someone whose job it was to make that thing. Every time you cut out a piece of the process, like writing a check, stuffing it in an envelope, putting a stamp on it and taking it to the mail box in order to pay directly online without putting on pants (that were made by someone else, likely), you're cutting someone's job duties. Some people have two jobs and they still can't pay the bills. If they were only to stop eating or caring for their families they probably could swing that third job.

If you're reading this on a computer of any kind, you can
thank NASA and a lot of hardworking people.
When you're doing your job, do you sometimes think you're overworked and underpaid? Would someone else offer you a job to pay you what you believe you're worth? Have you checked?

Jobs are work. Jobs are things that must be done. We all benefit from someone else doing their job and when we perceive they aren't doing their job we have options. We can take away their job or quit supporting the business that provides that job. We can, in fact, do the same job in our own way and compete with those people.

But only if you want to work. Nothing is easy. Having a job is logical and soul-sucking in the same regard. Nothing is free. If you consume something, it was someone's job to make it. Hopefully they did it with pride and not while they were thinking they were overworked and underpaid.

Take some time and really think about how many jobs are sustained by your own work. Think about how many people take care of you in some way, large or small. Don't you want them to do the best job possible? I do.

Don't be so quick to cut jobs. Engage in the world and create those jobs by walking into a business (put on some pants first, please) and getting what you want there rather than having everything delivered to your house. If you will simply take a moment and think about what you consume, you'll see what I mean.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Planet Comicon 2014

Here follows a Q&A.

Do you have any appearances coming up?

Yes, I will be in Artists Alley at Planet Comicon this coming March. I'll let you know the table number as soon as I get it. You'll find it here, on my Twitter feed and at my Facebook page.

Why should I care?

Well, I'll be premiering two short stories, the purchase of either one will get you a free audio version of a third short story. Also, I'll be doing Velocity Readout author sketch cards. I might have a couple of copies of some other works, too.

What the hell is a Velocity Readout author sketch card?

One of these:

Also, I'll do them on commission. Meaning if you ask me and I'm comfortable doing it, I could write a very short story about your favorite character. If you get one of those done, I'll do a live audio version on the spot that you'll be able to hear through Audioboo. I'll also post it up on the website here for everyone to see.

How much are you going to charge for these? 

The short stories I don't know yet. I have to get them printed and I'll figure it out after that. You'll also get that free audio story I mentioned in the form of a link and password to download when you get home. The sketch cards will be $5 each, including the audio version.

Yeah, you'll probably charge $5 for a little photocopied booklet of your stories, too.Why should I shell that kind of cash out for some self-published thing I could write myself?

Here's the lowdown on the new, never-before seen short stories that will only be available at my Planet Comicon Artists Alley table.
  1. They're both about 4000 words. 
  2. They are brand spanking new. 
  3. They have been professionally edited by the inimitable Sara E. Lundberg, editor. 
  4. I mentioned Sara's a professional editor, right?
  5. You'll get the aforementioned free audio download in MP3 format with your purchase.
  6. You'll be supporting an author who has struggled to make his art.
  7. And I'll doodle a sketch on the cover, too.
So whatever the price may be (and it might be $5, I just don't know yet, I hope less) - you'll be getting a real deal. I mean you could think of it one way that you're getting three stories for $10 plus a couple of doodles.

I don't know...

Well, you have some time to decide. I'll be there all three days. You can at least stop by and say 'hello' and check out the stories and some sketches.

Look, I know it's kind of odd to be doing this, but you know what? it's also kinda cool. Authors don't get the chance to sketch much outside of what we do in preparation to write. Do this with me and you'll be encouraging other authors to do it, too.

So you're a relatively unknown creator (a writer at that!) at Planet Comicon all three days shilling your self-published -

And professionally edited.

-professionally edited short stories and some sort of author sketch card. That sounds kind of humiliating.

It's not humiliating at all. How else am I going to get you guys to notice my work? I'm not a main attraction. I'm not even a sideshow attraction. I'm one of the midway performers is all. There's a complete list constantly being updated at the Planet Comicon website that you should definitely check out. A lot of friends are going to be there showing off their stuff.

I exhort you to stop and see us all to get your total con experience. This is one of the best shows going and you owe it to yourself to see it all.

Don't you?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Just - Stop

I'm a sarcastic sonofabitch. Always have been. However I don't think I'm snarky.

Derisive, sometimes, yes, but not rude. That's the difference.

I wonder if there are a lot of Internetters who don't know the difference. It appears that criticism (which is long dead on the web) consists entirely and only of snark. "This sucks because reasons."

Ugh.

Shorthand is useful in a lot of circumstances but criticism isn't one of them. 'Reviews' full of snark (books, video, whatever) are useless. Comments accompanying such reviews also filled with snark are even more useless.

Look, we all recognize there are problems in the world. We all recognize that not all art is good. We all recognize that politicians are - at best - out to line only their pockets. (That's an overly broad generalization. I bet there are one or two who are genuinely interested in serving the public. Out of thousands.) Anyway.

The few people who try to overcome outrageous acts are quickly derided, or snarked, into the background. As if speaking out were something to be ashamed of. And when snark doesn't work, shaming and bullying take over. Someone's too fat, too stupid, too vapid, too female.

Ever think about it that way? Ever been on the receiving end of someone trying to shame you? Ever been bullied? Has anyone ever been rude to you?

How did that make you feel?

Trying to argue for civility and positivity in this climate is like trying to catch a fart in a hurricane. Not gonna happen. Rather what I'm asking you to do is when you're ready to write a snarky comment, think twice about it.

First, why do you care? Second what else is there to care about that really needs attention?

I'm thinking mostly of why two million people have signed a petition to deport Justin Bieber and less than half that many who don't think all that much about the three hundred thousand folks whose water was poisoned by a negligent corporation (which is according to law a person so think about that, too).

Also, what was the big damn deal about a famous author who wanted to write a book under a pseudonym? Get over it.

In fact, stop complaining. Instead, offer solutions to real problems.

Because if you don't have any insight into how to solve problems, it's a waste of time and energy to spend on your comments. As a matter of fact, I encourage all of you reading this to take the same attitude. And then encourage your friends to do the same. Take it viral. You can do it.

I trust you.