Friday, September 03, 2010

The Times, They Are a Changing Again

Some of you may know, and some of you may not, that my life is in an evolutionary process right now. I was effectively laid off back in March and I've been making a living by going to as many Marine Corps exercises as I can. Now it's time to take the plunge and go back on active duty. I'm getting one year orders to Djibouti, Africa. Unaccompanied. Should be fun.

The activity on this blog will decrease. Partly because of the shift in life focus and partly because I'm just not writing very much at this time. I've started up a new blog called Going Afar. (Bonus points for anyone who can figure out the significance of the title.) The main reason for the blog is that I was having a hard time finding any current information on the deployment process and military life in Djbouti. So it's planned as a resource of sorts. Also in my thinking was that this part of my life doesn't really fit into the theme of this blog.

Scriptorius Rex will continue to be updated. I have the three stories which are coming out in the next few months and I'll provide info on them as well as the surrounding processes. Those interested are enthusiastically invited to follow my other blog. It's undiscovered territory for me, albeit thoroughly populated by others, and I'm looking forward to the journey.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't Say It's Over

But it is. I'm back in the US of A and Korea is in the rear view mirror. I had a great time and got to see a lot of the same officers from back in March. There was Maj Shin, who was my main counterpart and who I worked with the most, and Maj Baek, who I had the previously described conversation about 'fairy dust' with. We were more comfortable with each other this time around. (One great bit came when I was trying to teach a group of them how to pronounce the word 'collaborative'. It was a hopeless cause from the outset but we all had a good laugh.) The translators were better this time. One of them grew up in California and probably knew more Spanish than Korean. The one from Philly was hilarious to listen to during the briefs and another one studied at Oxford and sounded a bit like John Lennon. The final victory party was a shorter version of the last one, sans karaoke, but it was a better time in general.

It was a bit sad to leave knowing that I'll likely never go back again but then, that's how most things go in our lives isn't it? Now, with that behind me, I'm turning all focus on my upcoming deployment to Djibouti, Africa. I'm learning the history, studying the role of the US military there, and j'apprends le francais.

Life is like a giant book and it's time to turn to the next chapter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Rules

Rule No. 1: Never post when you're drunk.

Rule No. 2: Never break rule number one unless you've just spent two hours with the ROK Marine Corps, who, by the way, are professional drinkers (like the Russians but without the bitterness), and have thoroughly enjoyed the duck and pork and host of dipping sauces and garlic and peppers and kimchee and beer and soju and a really good whiskey.

This Is the Life

This is where I've been living for the past couple of weeks. The room fits seven but we usually only have a few of us at any one time. The showers are open bay style and they're down the hall. Toilet facilities, sinks, and a big rec room/chow hall at the other end of the building.

It beats a tent.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Words You Never Want to Hear the Four Year Old Say When He's the Only One Answering the Video Call and You're In Korea

"Dad! Why do meatballs explode?"


This is the emblem of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. The Eagle, Star, and Anchor, mounted outside the HQ building in Baran, South Korea. It symbolizes the fact that allied countries all over the world have forces that are trained to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Travelling Lighter Than Normal

Let me tell you how to get lost luggage back from the airlines. First you have to go to their service counter at the baggage claim and ask where your bags are. If you're in Pusan, which may be unlikely for you but very likely for me, you look around for someone who speaks good English. Then, and this is the important part, you assume a look of utter amazement while saying, "My bags aren't even in Korea yet?" Then you get a phone number to call and a claim number to reference. Then you shrug and go about your business. Then you spend an unrestful night on a cot wishing you had a pillow while listening to everyone else snore. Then you call the number the next morning, after the clock strikes Business Hours, and find out that your bags are somewhere over the Pacific and will get to Pusan late that night for delivery to you the next morning. Then you give them contact information for whatever military base you're currently staying at. Then you buy a couple of shirts. Then you go about your business. Then you wake up the next morning, feeling less fresh than usual, and call again to confirm that your bags are on the way. Then you wait all stinkin' day and they don't show up. Then you sleep again, with your mood in a downward spiral. Then you get up and spend a few hours trying to find out who picked up your bags from the main gate last night and, once found, patiently wait for them to figure out which van your bags are in the back of. (Hint: It's the van that just took someone to the train station.) Then you wait another hour or two and get your bags back. Then your glasses break.

And that's how you get lost luggage back from the airlines.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Left My Bags In San Francisco

I suppose when you travel as much as I do it is bound to happen to you. Of course it would be better if international travel and military exercises weren't involved.

I arrived in Seoul only to find out that my luggage did not. Since we were delayed out of Seattle to SF, and I had to hustle to make my flight to Korea, my bags didn't make it with me. So now I have a connecting flight to the south end of the peninsula followed by a bus ride out to another location only to wake up with no fresh clothes or uniforms tomorrow and get a ride right back to the airport in hopes that my bags finally show up. I imagine things will work out just fine in the end but I'm not sure how tonight's going to go. I have a sleeping bagless cot waiting for me in some tent somewhere. The potential for misery is high for this Marine.

But hey, if it was easy, anybody would do it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Writing Lessons From Inception

Inception is an outstanding movie. In a time where we get nothing but films about a group of similar people shooting/killing/blowing up a group of similar bad guys it is very nice to see something a little different. This is an excellent and suspenseful action thriller that is both smart and moving. The visuals are awesome and the plot moves with just enough complication to keep you interested the whole way through.

It's a fascinating aspect of the plot that is the focus of this writing lesson. The technology that gets the characters into each others' dreams is never explained other than by one line of dialogue: "The military developed this so soldiers could train realistically and not actually hurt themselves." That's the extent of the technobabble. What I love about it is that the technology really is irrelevant when you think about it. The characters believe in it. They use it and it works and it follows a few rules and that's it. That's a smart way to write the script because it saves you all kinds of time and effort to come up with something plausible. While you might think that is important, I would submit that you are just opening yourself up to trouble when someone starts to pick apart your system. Much easier to just remain mum and let the rest of the story work in your favor.

Anyhow, go see Inception. You'll thank me for it later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, The Fun You Can Have!

Today was Capitol Hill day for my class at the National Defense University. Luckily it was not too terribly hot like it had been last week because we started with a mid day walk from Union Station, past the Capitol building, and a couple blocks more to a restaurant for lunch. Then I had to scramble off and find Jay Inslee's office for a quick courtesy visit. He was between meetings but took the time to shake my hand and we chatted about the military and my upcoming assignment to Djibouti. Very nice, engaging fellow. Makes me wish he wasn't a Democrat.

Then I spent some time in the Senate visitors gallery and watched some proceedings regarding the Transparency and Disclosure Act. Sitting above the Senate floor is like Disneyland for a political science geek like myself. At first there's just some staffers shuffling paperwork around at the various tables up front. Then John Kerry walks through and goes into some room behind the chamber. Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid come in and discuss something for a while. Then the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell gets up and starts in on how awful the bill is that they're considering. Then Schumer gets up and talks, without looking at his notes, for fifteen minutes about how wonderful the bill is. Then, hold on to your hats folks, Senator Reid calls for a roll call vote for cloture! I'm thinking: AWESOME!

Before you know it, all the Senators start filing into the room, chatting amongst themselves, and getting the clerk's attention as he reads the roll. It's funny, but in the Senate they don't have fancy electronic voting gadgets. They just hold up their hand to the clerk and point up or down as they're walking by. My Senators, Cantwell and Murray, spent some time talking with each other before Sen. Cantwell started messing with her Blackberry and walked off. Al Franken walked in, milled around, voted, and left. Of course, the highlight of the afternoon was John McCain walking in, voting, and walking out. Fourteen seconds of my life I'll never forget.

With all this action in the Senate, I figured going over to 'that other body' would just be a let down. So, it was time to get the metro back to the hotel.

What a day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pentagon Memorial

This morning, before sunrise, I took a walk to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. I'm not sure why, but things like this really must be done very early in the morning. The site has the standard list of names etched in granite and then a large area with individual memorials sweeping up out of the ground with running water beneath them. They look a bit like benches but somehow it just doesn't seem right to sit on them. As I walked the grounds I noticed they are all arranged in parallel straight lines that point towards the rebuilt area of the Pentagon; there's a noticeable difference in shading of the new stone walls. It was somber, quiet, and with the sun coming up over the building, fairly awe inspiring. 184 people lost their lives that day, among them was only one Marine. Judging from his birth date I have to assume he was a crusty old retired jarhead with a story for every day he was in the service. After staring at the Pentagon for a few minutes, I found his memorial and sat down for a spell just to rest my feet.

I figured he wouldn't mind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

National Defense University

So I'm at a two week course with the National Defense University in Washington D.C. and it's going right smashingly. Since some of you may also get the chance to study national strategy and defense policy formulation, here are some handy tips:

1. Go back in time and ensure you got a degree in political science so that you actually like the intensive study of national strategy and defense policy formulation.

2. If you do not normally wear a coat and tie every day, and if you should happen to run somewhere like, oh, say Goodwill, the week before you leave to stock up on appropriate clothing, make sure you actually check to see if the belt you bought fits correctly or was made for a waist several times too big.

2a. I know there's no possible way you could be such an idiot, but in case number two falls through the cracks of your planning process pack a ratty-yet-serviceable black belt that you normally wear with your jeans just in case.

3. Learn to like very, very hot and humid weather or go get one of the schools in Rhode Island.

4. Consign yourself to the fact that you will fall asleep during the Department of State's lecture and sit way in the back.

5. Remember to totally geek out over seeing a rack of Joint Forces Quarterly magazines and scholarly journals from the Center for Complex Operations. (Then start salivating when you find out they're free!)

If I think of any other handy tips, I'll let you know.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Star Wars: The Claw Wars

Son Number Three has recently discovered Star Wars. As usual for a three year old, he watches movies 'again, again'. (And I'm more than willing to oblige.) He started with The Clone Wars and promptly retitled it Star Wars The Claw Wars. (Interesting Side Note: Why did Lucas refer to the conflict as The Clone Wars? Shouldn't it have been called The Separatist War?) Soon, everything related to the series had that title attached. The original movie was retitled Star Wars The Claw Wars The First One. Episode III is now Star Wars The Claw Wars Where He Kills His Master. Good stuff. (He also now demands to have frequent lightsaber battles with the red and blue plastic lightsabers that somehow ended up under the Christmas tree last December. Good thing I'm fairly proficient with the sound effects.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

American Monarchy

Here is an example of the sort of Google searches that happen when I find myself at the conjunction of Random Thought and Nothing Better To Do. Ever wonder what sort of royal family we would have had if George Washington had installed himself as the first King of America? The result may have been something like this. While George had no children, his older brother did and that line survives to this day. Providing that internecine squabbles by someone name Custis or Lee never happened, or that no coup d'etat was led by Hamilton, or no second Revolution led by Paine, Adams, or Jefferson, or none of a bazillion other things happened that can lead to a monarchy losing their head, we could have the honor of our King being a guy from Texas. No, not that guy from Texas, I'm talking about King Paul Emery Washington of San Antonio.

Just something that came to mind on this day after we celebrate our successful insurgency against our evil British overlords some couple hundred years ago.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Toy Story 3 Is Not For Kids

It's not that they won't enjoy it or anything, it's just that they won't get some of the complexity and gravitas of this very, very amazing movie. Kids will like the animation and the adventure and the laughs but there is also a whole level of depth that escapes them. I'm not talking about the clever bits that only an adult could grasp, like the elevator on Barbie's mansion jerking as it lowers because the doggone thing never quite worked as Mattel insisted it would. I'm talking about the deeper meanings of life and love that work their way throughout the story. (Although everyone seemed to love Buzz en EspaƱol.)

It is quite true that this is the movie that makes grown men cry. You simply cannot call yourself a real man if tears aren't streaming down your face at the garbage dump furnace scene; when these toys, these dear friends who've been with each other through so many trials and tribulations, realize that they are facing the end. That's it for them; their time is done. But they're together. And that makes it okay. Because if you have to face your final minutes here on Earth, it's best to be amongst friends and family.

Time will tell, but this could quite possibly be the best movie ever made. I know I said that about Saving Private Ryan and that Star Wars is still the one single movie that's had the most impact on my life but...

This was something special.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

June is the month for the CSFF to bring you Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. This is a hard-to-classify story that's a social commentary on the way Christians tend to make Jesus in their own image rather than the one God intended. Modern, quirky, and irreverent, Mikalatos shines some light in places we usually don't talk about and gleefully holds up a mirror so we can be sure of what we see.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things You Never Thought Would Happen to You In the Years B.C. (Before Children)

Open refrigerator. Say, "Hey, there's a big glass of grape juice that someone's covered with a piece of Saran wrap." Think that's kind of odd but not the strangest thing to happen. Remove glass from fridge. Remove Saran wrap. Drink liquid.

Race to sink. Say, "Hey, that's not grape juice; it's rinse water from purple paint brushes" while spitting liquid onto last night's dishes.

Return to fridge. Eye the glass half full of apple juice. Say, "Well, that doesn't look like a urine sample..."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Committee on Un-American Activities

OK, it's been a few days and I've got to say that I'm getting hooked on World Cup football. I'm starting to understand the strategies, I can see how the players are setting themselves up for passes and openings, and the international tournament setting is pretty neat. Even the low amount of scoring is now creeping through my system like crystal meth. (This is called 'variable reinforcement' for those who care, and it's much like gambling addiction.) There's also cool injuries to watch on the super slo-mo. (Some North Korean guy got carried off on a stretcher!)

But the best thing about watching the matches is that the clock never stops so there are no commercials. Just forty-five minutes of ball kicking. Twice. (I suppose that's the real reason this sport never took off in America. Logos on jerseys and flashing signs on the sidelines just can't take the place of the Coors Light Twins.)

And so I'm off to watch Bafana Bafana crush Uruguay. It's kinda cool to watch the dreams of a nation unfold in sport. America really hasn't had a moment like that since the 1980 Olympic hockey team. We'll see if South Africa can gain the same thing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Americans Love a Winner

...and will not tolerate a loser! But even though George Patton would snap his baton at the result of today's World Cup match, you gotta be happy with a draw. In anticipation of my year in Africa I've been trying to pay attention to things that might be important to those I'll be interacting with. Football is one of them.

International goodwill not withstanding, I'm having trouble really embracing a game where both sides often play for a couple hours only to shake hands after a 0-0 tie. While I understand that not losing against England is a good result as far as the tournament goes, it just grates on me that one side or the other couldn't figuratively stand on the bloody chest of a fallen enemy and thrust red steel into the air.

If this keeps up I'll be reduced to checking the standings occasionally and the game will be as meaningless to me as the NBA. (The Lakers are in some kind of important set of games, correct?)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Can Never Go Wrong With Zombies

Son Number Two is a genius. He has wicked computer design skills and an artist's eye for how to employ them. One of his current games of choice is Roblox, a Lego-like building program that lets you design and move around in your own worlds. I watched him build a world with different levels and spinning things and elevators. Then he sat back and said, "I'm not really sure what to do with this place now."

My reply was quick and firm. "Zombies. You can never go wrong with zombies."

And, thinking about it, that's right. If you are designing a system that encourages people to move through it in some way or another, whether it's a game or a corporate voice mail system, there must be something that keeps people on their toes. Use their brains, so to speak. Thus, you can never go wrong with zombies.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Writing Lessons From Sting

Saw Sting at the White River Amphitheatre last night. As predicted, it was cold and rainy but we were seated under cover so all was well. The orchestra was a great touch and the musical highlights were "Mad About You" and "Desert Rose."

But there were also a couple of tidbits that apply to writers. Sting said there were two types of love stories. I Love You/You Love Me, which is boring and goes nowhere, and I Love You/You Love Someone Else. It's the second one that's the most interesting and has the deepest dramatic goldmines to plunder.

Later on, he talked about how he writes songs. He's been doing it for decades and still calls it a 'mysterious process.' His tendency over the past ten to twenty years has been to arrange the music first and then let that music suggest mood and character. Fiction writers do the same kind of thing when we come up with the framework of scenarios and settings and then wait for a story and hero to fill the spaces. The interesting thing he said was not to be afraid of what comes along and demands to be written, even if it's a story about things that make us uncomfortable.

Good advice, and it's worked well for him so it's something to consider.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ebb and Flow

I got back from Hawaii a few days ago and immediately got caught up in the Siren call of Uneventful Yet Strangely Busy Normal Life. Lawn, garbage, teaching Son Number One to drive, that sort of thing. Anyhow, what's taking up most of my time nowadays is working on getting mobilization orders overseas, probably to Africa. There's a tremendous amount of bureaucratic inertia that I have to overcome to make that happen; it's actually pretty funny. Things like three emails back and forth to the same people before we all figure out how to get my security clearance updated. You know how it goes.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Goes Around Does Not Always Come Around

Last trip to Hawai'i was pretty light on the work and pretty heavy on the time off. That is not the case this time around. Other than a couple of easy 'check in' sort of days to start with, this exercise has been 12-13 hour night shifts and little sleep and snarled up traffic and not nearly enough M&M's. But, like we say here in the islands, "You can be having the worst day of your life, but you're still in Hawai'i."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

View From the Top

Back in Hawai'i for more grueling duty with the Marines. Oh, by the way, this is the view from my hotel room.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Absolut Thievery

Henry V by the Seattle Shakespeare Company displayed some of the best stolen scenes I've ever seen. The play is a solid performance by all around, set in mid twentieth century England/France, but the Bernie Madoff of theatre has to be Jerick Hoffer as the gay French 'lady-in-waiting' for Princess Catherine. He only has two major scenes in that character but when he's on stage every eye is watching him. The key to his larcenous performance is how over the top he vaults himself. First he instructs Catherine on speaking English, which hilariously sets up the heist, then he acts the tetchy guardian when Henry tries to woo Catherine to be his queen, which locks him in as a criminal mastermind. Hoffer clearly has the knack for great acting which goes beyond character and gets to something more internal; he has the bravery to take what's given to him and make something truly special out of it. Can't wait to see him as a headliner.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For Those Who Love Government Health Insurance/Care

I just spent two stinkin' hours at the Department of Licensing with a hundred other people getting serviced by three counters. All for five minutes worth of work.

Just saying...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Raven's Ladder

For our second helping of goodness this month, the CSFF is presenting Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet. This book continues the thread started in Auralia's Colors and weaves it into a full blown tapestry. Anyone who is a fan of big complex fantasy stories needs to pick this series up and give it a try.

Other opinions:
Brandon Barr
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Travelling Tips For the Completely Clueless

Now that I'm back in Seattle and awaiting transportation I have a few things to say about travelling. You people who don't do much flying really annoy those of us who do. You've heard the stories about airlines starting to charge for carry on bags, right? I'm not entirely opposed to this policy. As someone who's flown repeatedly over the years, I've noticed that carry ons are starting to get out of control. ONE carry on bag! Then a SMALL personal item like a purse or laptop case. Why is this so difficult to comprehend? Two bags that link together as one are still TWO! Then you have a humongous purse that could hold lipstick, a wallet, and a spare set of snow tires. And THEN you try to find a place for your shopping bags! Enough already! And while we're on the subject of carry ons, could you please arrange your stuff so that the one or two things you need while in your seat are in a convenient pocket that you can grab quickly and SIT DOWN! Also, can you please stop packing a bag so impossibly heavy that you can't even lift it?

And here's another thing. You people need to figure out what your friggin' suitcases look like. Yes, I know they're all black. But to say that they all look alike? Really, I thought we were over that as a country.

Thank you. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Done With Hawai'i For Now

Well, the exercise is over and it's time to get on that big ol' jet airliner. One last jog on the beach and swim in the ocean and then it's wait until May to do it all again. Of course, what trip to Hawai'i would be complete without sharing a public shower with a big homeless Hawai'i'an while he sings through his repertoire of off-key Phil Collins songs. Mmmmmmm.... Island paradise.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crash of the Titans

Took some time the other day to go see Clash of the Titans. This is a big loud movie with lots of dazzlement. It wasn't bad, but for most of the movie I was wondering about character motivations. I just couldn't quite follow why everything was happening. The whole theme of the movie is Man vs Gods. At times there seemed to be contradictory messages and I was left to puzzle out the meaning of it all. Thankfully, right about then something large and beastly would show up and a disagreement would erupt. Good fun stuff that.

For us in the real world there is a separation between God and Man that is bridged by faith because God's direct actions in our lives are mostly covert. But when the King of Argos declares that the Age of Men has begun it isn't but a few seconds of screen time before Hades himself shows up and demonstrates that the gods aren't quite done yet. In the face of such obvious power there were still several characters running around saying how wonderful and strong men were. Also, you had Perseus (with a cool Australian accent amidst the rest of the Greek warriors) who hated the gods and demanded quite clearly that he would beat them with only his manly powers. But soon it becomes obvious that he can't do it so he resorts to cheating by getting himself a Medusa head, using his magic sword, and flying on the magic horsey. Then you also had Zeus who wanted the love of the people he created so much that he let his brother terrorize them and release a giant turtle-squid on them. I didn't quite follow the logic in that.

So even though there are really cool giant scorpions, which are always fun to watch, you might want to rent this movie instead of shelling out 9 bucks for it unless you really have to see it on the big screen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lost Mission

The CSFF is stepping things up this month. First tour is for Lost Mission by Athol Dickson. This is an interesting story with a combination of historical-mystery-thriller and Christian-magical-realism. It's the kind of fascinating stuff that is blossoming within Christian fiction as a way of illustrating the reality of God and challenging us to examine and sharpen our own beliefs. When you can do that and tell a great story, you're doing something right.

The rest of the tour:
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In the Heart of Men?

The Shadow knows!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I Kid You Not

Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

For Those Who Have Gone Before

This is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor. Every Marine is prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for no other reason than because their country asked them to.

Some of us actually do it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Authentic Hawai'ian Mini-Fridge

OK, here's my first picture of paradise. More to follow!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Wars and Rumors Of Wars

This time I'll be dealing mostly with the 'rumors of wars' part of the famous quote. I'm on another exercise with the Marines and I'll be spending a couple of weeks in Hawai'i. I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing yet but that's not a concern. The major concern for today is that it's opening day for baseball season and the Mariners have almost completely overhauled their team. I need to catch up.

In a bit of a twist, this time I remembered to bring a camera so I'll be boring you all with pictures of paradise!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roar of the Crowd Unveiled

Roar of the Crowd is the latest signature release from Rogue Blades Entertainment and I am in it. "Love and Revolution", which I wrote about a month or so ago, has been accepted for publication later this year. As it has been with the last two anthologies from RBE, this is an absolute thrill.

The special requirements and constraints applied to the submissions of this anthology proved to be complex and challenging. There had to be some kind of sporting-type event that included a crowd, they had to be involved in the story in an irreplaceable way, and there had to be some kind of fantasy element involved. Luckily it didn't also have to be set in the early afternoon of the second Tuesday of the month.

"Love and Revolution" sprang from the simple idea that the hero had to get his true love back. The rest just sort of wrote itself, complete with explosions, knifings, spearings, swordings, and more explosions. It's set in a gladiatorial arena in Roman North Africa around 250AD in the early afternoon on the second Tuesday of the month. I hope you all enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

This month the CSFF is touring Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R. J. Anderson. This is not your average Tinkerbell faery story. It has a bit more grit and gravitas than anything Disney could or would provide. For instance, the lead character takes up the un-faeryish name Knife.

In a world where faeries have lost their faery dust (and as I have written before, that stuff is crucial to success everywhere) you know you're going to get a great story.

Other tour participants for the month that you should check out:
Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Amy Browning
Melissa Carswell
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Victory Party

I have to tell you about what may be the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my military career. When the exercise is over it is tradition for US and ROK officers to get together for a victory dinner where there is an excessive amount of drinking. The drink of choice is soju, a sweet vodka type stuff. The dinner was kimche and smoked duck and a variety of dipping sauces. The drinking started early with three shots of soju accompanied by toasts to the Marines and the Commandant and et cetera. Then more eating and drinking. Then more drinking. When the Korea 3-star General got up and made a final toast by downing an entire 500ml bottle of soju I realized that these Koreans are professional drinkers.

Next we get up from the table and head downstairs, I'm thinking to a bar of some sort. No, we end up in a 15x30 foot room with a curved couch and table in one half and an open area in the other. Its a private karaoke den.

Oh dear.

You've never seen weird until you've watched a drunk Korean 3-star General swaying about and waving his hand in the air while singing "Dancing Queen." The situation was surreal, with all the American officers sitting around the table drinking beer and the Korean Colonels and Generals out on the floor displaying a varying degree of English skills. I'm sitting back and singing along with everyone else (it's amazing how the lyrics of "Take Me Home, Country Road" just come back to you all of a sudden) but there's no way I'm getting up there. We go through "Surfin' USA" and "Enter Sandman" and really stumble our way through "Back in Black" because no one could sing it fast enough. I find it harder and harder to turn down the general who keeps pointing at me to take a turn. Finally I relent and choose "Born in the USA" by Springsteen. (The astute of you will know how that could be a problem.)

I got up and then I realized that the only way to sing this song is to scream it. So I did. Of course, two or three verses in I get to the part about killing the yellow man. Yikes. We get through the verse and the Koreans all keep singing and everything ends well. They even keep coming up to me afterward and patting me on the back and saying "Born in the USA!" So the night ended well and there was no international incident.

Now it's time to go home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fairy Dust

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of ROK officers yesterday. It was by far my most extensive conversation with them yet. Lots of puzzled looks and slow shaking of the head. Seems they don't understand the time honored Marine Corps tradition of "fairy dust."

Exercises of this size are very complex things. They are also very expensive things, with lots of people coming from all over and moving lots of things around the peninsula. There are several staff sections developing plans and coordinating actions and giving briefs and all that other stuff that goes into exercising the war plan. So the last thing the Marines want to do is get hung up on a show stopping problem that grinds all that to a halt. Enter fairy dust.

Let's say, hypothetically, you've got a refueling system that has eight miles of pumping capability and you need to cover a distance of twelve miles. In the real world you'd be screwed. But in Exercise Land you just sprinkle fairy dust over the problem and suddenly the distance you need to cover is only 7.6 miles. Problem solved!

The Koreans are a very by-the-book people. When I tried to explain what we were doing, the ROKs looked at me with a polite smile, sure that the crazy American must be wrong or the interpreter must be translating incorrectly. No, I explained, this is just how Marines deal with potentially devastating situations. You see, we're so confident in our ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome that we just don't let little things like physical impossibilities get in our way. It's worked for over 230 years, I don't see why it won't work for another 230.

So even after they pulled out a very thick binder and showed me where the exercise data showed twelve miles I just shrugged, smiled, and said, "Doesn't matter. For the purposes of the exercise, it works. We'll figure out how later."

And that's the essence of Fairy Dust.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lazy Day in Korea

Not much to do today except read through Wikipedia to my heart's content and watch a couple of bootlegged movies on DVD. Cop Out is much funnier with bad video quality and shadows of people getting up in front of the bootlegger.

The other major discovery today (thanks to no one feeling like changing the channel on the rec room TV) is that Sex and the City is just as inane and morally despicable with Korean dubbing as it is in its original Manhattanese. I remember reading once that everyone over here thought Americans all lived like the show Dallas. It's a sad thing that our image is not improving.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

International Relations

My job here in Korea is to be part of a coordination team that helps the ROK Marine Corps take over the warfighting responsibilities on the peninsula in the near future. That means that I have to attend a lot of meetings. Here's an interesting (and unclassified) event from yesterday.

We're sitting in a conference room with about six officers on each side. At the last minute, a Korean Lieutenant Colonel walks in and sits down. I'd only seen him before during the video teleconferences and I knew he was a big guy but he's even bigger in person. We had taken to referring to him with nicknames like Gigantor, The Beast, or, after he loudly corrected the behavior of a room full of ROK Marines, The Enforcer.

The meeting progressed and we worked through our issues. As we were wrapping up and talking about future operations, the U.S. team leader says, pointing at The Enforcer, "I know one thing, I'd never want to go into hand to hand combat with that guy." We all laughed and the interpreter translated. The Koreans all laughed, the big one the loudest of them all. The ROK Colonel leans over with a smile and says, "He, uh..." and you could see him searching for the words, "He, uh... He big, uh... big teddy bear."

You could tell by the smile on Gigantor's face that he was absolutely correct.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No Coke. Pepsi.

I found a little noodle shop that serves the local ROK Marines. I go in, look around, and see to great joy that they have reach-in coolers with sodas and juice. Most excellent! I start scanning the options. Mountain Dew. Lots of Korean stuff. Pepsi. Some bottled water. Within seconds my joy turns to horror as I see that neither cooler has what I really need. Darn it all to Heck!

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm typing this with a Styrofoam cup of icy Pepsi at my side.

Here's some more about the interactions with the Koreans over the last couple of days. Their word for yes is ye but to hear them pronounce it it sounds more like "yih", only with a drawn out 'y' sound at the beginning. I've also noticed that certain military words don't have translations and they don't even try. "DEFCON" and "H-Hour" spring to mind. The translators are fun to talk to because they keep asking if a certain word is proper, which is right up my alley. I probably gave one of them way to much information on the difference between 'possess' and 'have' but hey, he asked. There was also a smirk worthy moment when one of the enlisted translators called me "Sir Draper."

Since English is taught to them all through school, some are fairly fluent all by themselves. The Colonel who is in charge of the section I'm working with can speak fairly well. We were sitting in a video teleconference with several other units and towards the end of the meeting the video feed froze up and we lost the signal. We waited for a little while and it never restarted so he leaned back in his chair, shrugged, and said, "Hmmm. Game over."

So we're most of the way through Part A and the weekend will provide some liberty. I'm going to try to get to Osan Air Base and a western commissary and some real Coke. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

My Kingdom For a Coke

I've gone through two full days at my new post in Baran, Korea. The bunker I'm working in is impressive and feels like you're walking into the lair of a James Bond villain. Several ramps lead down to a blast door that's about a foot thick. Multiple levels within the bunker are complete with command centers and offices and huge conference rooms. I'll bet they have a hidden pool somewhere with sharks wearing frikkin' "lasers".

However, the one bad thing about this place, which is located on a ROK Marine Corps base, is that there are no Western amenities at all. No PX, no Burger King, nothing. Also, very distressingly, no Coke. Yesterday I began a recon process that will range further and further out, like the proverbial lone survivor in the post nuclear apocalypse looking for precious nourishment. Hopefully the two inches of snow we got last night will not hinder the process.

Working this closely with ROK Marines is pretty interesting. While most of them speak at least a little English, I have a translator assigned to me who spent seven years in Utah and speaks very good American. (There's one translator who I hear on some of the briefs that went to Oxford and has a British accent. It's weird.) It's interesting to see how the Koreans have adapted to our style of warfare, and by that I mean warfighting with PowerPoint as your primary weapon. Apparently Korean words like "next slide" and "click" are just "next slide" and "click" but said with a Korean accent. I've also noticed that "OK" means the same thing in both languages.

Well, that's that then. Breakfast is about to be served and then it's off to the bunker for another exciting day. But if I don't recon me a Coke soon, I may just create an international incident.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Feorhmaegen Finds a Home

We interrupt my running commentary on this year's Korea Trip to announce that my story, "The Feorhmaegan", has been accepted for publication in the anthology Through Blood and Iron by Ricasso Press. This is shaping up to be a great anthology with some outstanding authors of bone cracking mayhem. I'm thrilled to be a part of it and look forward to its premier later this year.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

And Then Sometimes Good Stuff Happens

So I'm laying in bed Thursday morning and it's about 4:30 AM. I knew I would be waking up early and thought I would maybe do a quick half load of laundry and maybe go out to breakfast or otherwise make a slow morning of it. The plane didn't leave until 9:30 so I had a few hours. Then I realized that I never checked my seats and didn't know if I had the aisle or not. So I quick fast jumped out of bed and called up my itinerary. Gasp! I didn't even have a confirmed seat. This is what happens when Admin waits 'til the last minute to book our flights. I also didn't have a direct route, stopping in Tokyo for a six hour layover. In the world of international travel, I was in a bad situation.

I quick fast got ready and ran to the airport only to check my bags and be told that the gate crew would assign my seat. This is also not good,; it means the plane is full. Time was ticking away and I could feel the chance of sitting in the middle approaching 100%. (Did I mention before this was an 8 hour flight?) So I wait and I wait and the gate crew finally shows up and starts messing with the seating arrangements. When it's my turn to ask for a seat, they hand me a boarding pass for 78B. I didn't know there were 78 rows on a 747. With a great deal of dread and more than a little bit of impatient grumbling I step on board and the steward points me upstairs.

Wait, I think. I've never even seen what it's like upstairs. How can it be that I'm actually sitting up there? But I was. Wanna know what it's like?

First Class Nirvana.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Things to Do In Hawai'i

If it's Wednesday night and you've got an egregiously long flight to Korea in the morning, there's no better place to spend some time than Calvary Chapel Honolulu. The building is nice and comfy and the people are warm and inviting. You've just got to enjoy a church where the worship leader sounds like Johnny Cash and the pastor quotes Sun Tzu. I found tonight's message on spiritual warfare especially fitting considering a few of the things I've encountered in recent days. But, as we all know, God is great and The Adversary is... not. I'm looking forward to stopping by a few more times this year as the Lord wills it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

How to Get to Hawai'i: Step Two

Get on your plane and do a happy dance when the chick next to you decides to move over to an open seat once the doors close, thus giving you your own row. Fly through the turbulent Sierra Nevadas and out across the Pacific. Grumble a bit about the airplane's 'personal entertainment center' not working correctly but then get over it quickly because you really didn't want to watch The Blind Side anyhow. Read a little. Work through three slush stories for your editor friend who's probably getting a little ticked off that you're falling behind. Read a lot. Wander around next to the lavatories and stretch. Sit down and stare at the seat in front of you like a mindless drone for another two freakin' hours. Land.

Get your car and drive past Waikiki. (Because who really wants to go to the beach when you can go eat at the Rainbow Drive-In.) Get dinner and add fourteen points to your cholesterol in one sitting. Go to the PX and get some vino. (Plastic screw top bottles, baby!) Check in to your room and let everyone know you've arrived safely.


How to Get to Hawaii: Step One

Go to Salt Lake City. From Seattle this is obviously the best route to take, just ask the travel arrangers with the Marine Corps Reserve. Make sure you sit next to a well dressed man who spends his time reviewing Power Point presentations about streamlining your Tier 2 optimizations, recumbent cost curves, and reconstructing customer interactions. Oy. Thank the Good Lord Above that you're not that guy. Admire the view of the Great Salt Lake from angels 5. At that altitude you can see the olive green silty flats leading down to it. The lake itself has a purplish color, like the last sip of a good Pinot Noir. Then enjoy some fine Utah cuisine courtesy of Burger King. Continue on to your next flight.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to be Unfortunately Named

I'm driving down the street towards work and I see that a brand new apartment complex for 'senior living' has just been named. The new sign was out front and I immediately thought, "Whoa, didn't anyone run this past a let's-make-sure-this-isn't-stupid committee?" Who in their right mind names a retirement home "Shepherd's Garden"? Is it just me or isn't that a place where the Good Shepherd goes to plant his people in final rest? Ya gotta wonder sometimes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Firmness of Our Beliefs

SCENE: Dentist's office. PATIENT is laying in chair, slightly nervous but not showing it. DENTIST swivels around after consulting x-rays.

DENTIST: Well, we could save the wisdom tooth but it would require a root canal and those run fifteen hundred dollars. Now, it's entirely up to you. If you want to keep your teeth I understand. We'll do whatever you want if that's what you want.

PATIENT: You know, it's always been my goal in life-- (raises arms and smacks a fist into his palm to emphasize his words) to keep my wisdom teeth.

DENTIST: That's a worthy goal. We can do that.

PATIENT: However, what was that you said about fifteen hundred dollars?

DENTIST: (laughs; mimics the hand smacking) How quickly our goals can change!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Unnatural Act

No, I'm not talking about some of the more obscure and outdated laws of South Carolina. I'm talking about getting one of my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. My dentist referred to it as an 'unnatural act' and that your body doesn't want things that are supposed to stay in to be taken out. Judging from the involuntary and quite primal reaction I had to the event, I believe her.

In my writing I've often used the term 'bone crunching' to describe sounds of combat. I now know what that sound is... from up close. I'm laying back in the chair thinking about how I really wanted to keep my wisdom teeth all my life; sort of a personal goal, if you will. They start tugging, pushing, and twisting. I can hear the soft, crackly sounds of ligaments tearing away. Then there's this bone crunching crack and the dentist's hands jerk a little. My arms recoil and I shudder. I can feel the adrenaline flush into my system. The dentist pats me on the shoulder and says that's it. I was minus one wisdom tooth.

It was one bizarre experience that I'm certain I don't want to repeat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When Worlds Collide

Well, the Inescapable Black Hole that is Facebook is slowly dragging me under the event horizon. There is no denying that Facebook is a technological jump of quantum significance and it is bringing the modern world along for the ride. It is allowing people to connect with each other in ways never possible before and, like Frankenstein's errant lab experiment, I'm not sure we know exactly where it's headed.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. (Shoot, the good doctor mentioned above managed to unite the citizenry in a righteous cause and increase market share for burning pitch.) I'm just saying that in days gone by, one was able to leave the past in the past if that was one's inclination. Now, thanks to another technology called a 'camera', the combination of modern advancements and antiquated record keeping are colliding like doomed protons in Geneva. The result could be catastrophic destruction on a global scale or it could be a few red faced explanations to current significant others.

Only time will tell.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joy and Dismay in .03 Seconds

It is tradition on Valentine's day around here that there is See's chocolate and helium filled balloons. In fact, it has become such a tradition that Daughter Number One has been talking about it all week, wondering what kind of balloon her daddy is going to get her. So when I showed up with a pink heart balloon she beamed with a radiant joy that could melt a Yeti's scowl. (Son Number Three got a monkey 'be mine' balloon but that's not important right now.) She showed it off to the rest of the family, drew little hearts and flowers on it, and took it everywhere with her for the rest of the morning. Then I'm upstairs watching the Olympics and I hear her little voice say, "I'm going to go outside with it!" Yes, the astute of you know what's about to happen and so did I.

I hear the door open. I hear laughter so joyous you could see the skip in her step with your mind's eye. Then, exactly .03 seconds later, I hear a wailing scream of the most heart wrenching magnitude in all of human history. It is long and drawn out and soul crushing, followed by heaving sobs and the plaintive words of ultimate loss, "My balloon!" The door closes. There is crying and more mournful wailing. It gets slowly louder as she comes up the stairs. I meet her on the landing and she falls into my arms. "I lost your balloon," she says between sobs. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Daddy, I lost your balloon. I tied it twice but it slipped off. I'm sorry, Daddy, I'm so sorry."

I pat her head and rock her back and forth a little. I tell her I love her, I'll always love her, and I'll never not love her.

Then we go to the dollar store and get another balloon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Idiot Savant

All of us have special talents. All of us have God given gifts that set us apart from fellow mortals and make us stand out like a green M&M in a bowl of reds. Mine happens to be Star Wars trivia. Wife Number One and Only got me the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game for Christmas. She knew, rightly so as it turns out, that the game would never be played because I would win in one turn. So now I amuse myself with my unerring ability to pick any card at random and correctly answer six out of six questions. The one or two times that I only answered five correctly it was clearly the card's fault for not being clear enough so I promptly rephrased the question and described the scene in which it happens.

It may not be the gift of tongues or faith healing or whatever, but it makes me special.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Early Review on Love and Revolution

Wife Number One and Only asked to read Love and Revolution so I emailed her a copy. (From across the room, too. How sad.) Anyway she read it today and her first comment was, "Are your stories always so bloody?"

I kind of scrunched up my eyebrows in a puzzled sort of look. Perhaps, just perhaps, I've become a little de-sensitized to the violence I write about. Perhaps the common person is not quite up to speed on the typical fare that heroic fantasy brings you. I thought back on the action sequences, the fire, the knives, the multiple painful deaths. My response: "That one was tame..."

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Bit More on Love and Revolution

Love and Revolution is off on the submission circuit. (There's nothing like a deadline to get your creative juices boiling.) One of the things I really like about this story is the hero I've created. For years now my protagonists have been serious and somber and, you know, heavy. I've been wanting to create a hero that's funnier and more flippant yet still heroic. A few attempts here and there have just been failures because I couldn't capture the right mood or the plot developed around the hero hasn't lent itself to that kind of interaction. This time, however, I think I've nailed it. The hero is named Izan and he's a North African Berber trying to rescue a princess from the clutches of the murderous Roman pigs who've taken over their land. Young and rakish, Izan is mostly light-hearted throughout the tale, only becoming dark and murderous himself when it's most convenient. As for the princess, well, she doesn't start out as enamored of him as he is of her. That makes for good fun right there.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love and Revolution

I've got to crow a bit about a new first for me. I started a story two days ago and finished it this morning in a creative rush that surprised me a bit. It's called "Love and Revolution" and it's sitting at 4600 words. The final target is five thousand and I'm sure when I put the final bits of flesh on the bones of it I'll have something worthwhile. It's got a different sort of hero than I usually write but he's been kicking around inside me for a while now. Other than the general idea, this story went from inspiration to completion in less that 60 hours. I think that's a record for me but since I wasn't particularly keeping track, I'm not sure. Anyhow, it's fun to chalk up a victory now and then.

The Shortest Short Story

I ran across this some time ago but have been thinking more about it lately. Ernest Hemingway is credited with writing the shortest short story ever, with just six words to sum it all up. It's an amazing piece, and legend has it that he wrote it simply to win a bar bet. Interestingly, not only is it the shortest short story, it's also the saddest.

For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

North! Or Be Eaten

For this month's CSFF tour, we're highlighting the book North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson. It's part of a series of books called The Wingfeather Saga and you should check them both out. Since I've noticed most people have a distinct aversion to being eaten, the book promises to be thrilling and chilling. Find someone in the target YA audience and get them this book.

Here's the rest of the tour:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
April Erwin
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Steve and Andrew
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rage Done Right

Rape, murder, treachery, incest, cannibalism, blood... Ah, those wacky Greeks. Last night I took Wife Number One and Only to see Electra by the Seattle Shakespeare Company. It's part of their expanded season that includes a classical play by someone other than The Bard. Seattle Shakes continues to impress, racking up another winner here that you really should go see.

There were many highlights which all combined to produce one pretty intense experience. Doors open, walk through a vestibule to get to the theatre, and there in an alcove of plain white sits Electra with her back to us watching black and white home movies of her father playing with them as children. Eerie, soulful, and introductory of the mood we're about to be immersed in, the small room is like a padded cell and Electra wears simple white clothing, not bright and gay but dingy and worn.

The stage is grey and harsh, starkly lit by cheap bare bulbs. It's then that you notice a lack of color and vibrancy anywhere. When Darragh Kennan enters as Orestes you again see that everyone is in grey and white. As the story unfolds, you start to realize that color is being saved until the end. And with a play like this, you know the color will be red.

It isn't long before Marya Sea Kaminski as Electra reaches out and grabs you with mourning that seems so raw, you feel you shouldn't be looking at it. Her performance then turns into the rage of a daughter bereft of her father and forced to live with the killers. She surges into a screaming, spittle flying rage that continues to crash into you like an angry sea pounding at a rocky shore.

Add to that the emotional performance of Susannah Millonzi as Chrysothemis, Electra's sister. She plays the part as a simple woman, trodden down and abused yet still hanging on to a thread of innocent cheer like a beaten puppy. She provides the single most emotional moment of the evening when told that the beloved brother she's been waiting for to return has actually died. She begins screaming out "No! No! No! No! NO!" while stamping her feet and trying not to believe it. It's the kind of moment that reaches inside you and pulls tears out of places you don't like to visit.

Then we reach the part of the play where a lot of red is seen. Electra's murdering mother dies backstage at the hands (and axe) of Orestes. Orestes and his accomplice return center stage smeared with so much blood it's dripping off them. A little later the body is revealed and the blood was poured all over the very nice actress who played a very mean mother. But of course we know: Too much is never enough. The murdering new husband shows up and is taken backstage to be axed. Blood begins flowing down the previously white curtain behind the doorway and Electra's revenge is complete.

This show, my friends, is rage done right.

The Maybey Story

A couple of years ago I started a story called "Claws From the Grave of Delta Maybey." Other than a vague idea of setting, probably inspired by the lonely and dark Halloween night around me, I had no idea what to do with it. Well, since I'm between writing projects at the moment I decided to read it over and see what I could make of it. I still like the mood and writing style that I developed and I've added a few hundred more words to it. A full idea has coalesced in my mind and although it smacks of a deal with the devil story, which by all accounts is overdone, I think I can turn it into something that will be cool to read. Also, it should end up being shorter than my latest projects, which tend to become novella in size. It is a departure from the sword and sorcery I had settled into over the last five years or so and that is a good thing. While I am fond of saying 'too much is never enough', the reality is that I know I need to expand a bit. Staying still means you're going backward.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thunder Canyon Misses the Top Spot

Well, fourteenth place in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll isn't bad, considering it's my first appearance there and all. Of course, with all the tied vote tallies it's more like 23rd or something but as we all know: it's nice just to be nominated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Avatar: Something For Everyone To Hate

It's amazing who's lining up to criticize this movie, which is shaping up to be the best movie everybody hates. We've heard about the left calling it racist and the right calling it anti-capitalism and anti-military. Anti-smoking groups decry one of the characters for lighting up. Now the Vatican says it leads people towards pagan nature worship. All I've got to say is, since I'm going to see it for a second time (in IMAX3D baby!) next week, if everybody can find something to hate in your movie... you must be doing something right.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Vote For Pedro

No, actually you should be voting for me in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. "Thunder Canyon" has been nominated for Best SF&F Short Story, along with a whole bunch of other stories that while equally great are not equally deserving. If you are so inclined, go to the proper website and scroll down for a little while until you find "Thunder Canyon." Click on it and fill out your info in the actually completely harmless boxes. Then remember to answer the confirmation email, which is the last you will ever receive on the matter, and I will thank you for it.