Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Sol

We flicker like flames
Life and death and love and hate
On the skin of Sol

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bred is Available . . .

My new book, Bred, is now available at Barnes & Noble, and on iTunes.

Demel was bred for power, born into slavery, and lives in the city of sorcery. His talent for remaining unnoticed allows him to grow into, and master, his power. But when he frees himself from a powerful control curse, he releases a storm of events which threatens all of Lyn. Demel, and his sometimes reluctant allies, are the only ones who can stop a thousand years of violence and oppression.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Write for Yourself

In June of 2005 I started writing a science fiction blog as a simple exercise. It was, in part, inspired by the Cassini mission and the Huygens lander, but it grew into a years long project that surprised me in many wonderful ways. The story eventually out-grew the format, and so I stopped working on it. Until now, I've only told a handful of people about it because it was, all along, something I did to make myself happy.

Is it a complete novel? I'm not sure. It's just a series of blog posts by a fictional character, writing about his life aboard a space station which orbits Saturn. It is, possibly, a space opera. Each post is self-contained, or at least as self-contained as any random blog post, but there is a overarching exposure of the world, and the troubles faced by the people who live in it. There is no ending, as such. The main character simply signs off one day, making vague promises of future postings.

I hope to expand on the story of Fort Falling some day, but even so, I'm currently editing the story so I can publish it as a free ebook some time within the next couple of months. I intend to use it as a promotional tool. It's already free on the web, but a free ebook might gain me some name recognition.

Name recognition can be good, but it can also be bad. Self-promotion seems to be a fine line between obscurity and infamy.  If I constantly spam social media sites with ads trying to get people to buy my new fantasy novel, Bred, I'm more likely to turn them away than to make any sales. I know those constant spam posts irritate the crap out of me.

I'm even hesitant to publish this post, but I do want to sell books. I want to sell books so I can write more books faster--so I can do more of something which makes me happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Geneva and the Nature of Virtual Reality

The International Committee of the Red Cross is investigating video games. Specifically, they are concerned that gamers are violating humanitarian law by . . . gasp . . . playing war games wherein they might commit war crimes. Doesn't this organization have more important things to do?

There is no solid evidence which points to violence in video games making people more violent. Or, more accurately, there is just as much evidence supporting such play as a positive influence as there is evidence to support the opposite. And these guys want to talk about what they should do about it.

Here's an idea: Think of video games as fiction. They are not real. Real people do not suffer inside of a game. They are bits of code and imagination, not people. I can summon a demon and let it loose to kill a whole room full of people in one of my video games. I can't do that in real life, and even if I could, I would have to have a real good reason for doing so. Even then, I'd probably look for another way to handle it first. How can you apply humanitarian law to fictional people? How does that even make sense?

Can we argue, honestly, that these fictional acts have a negative impact on the real people playing the game? I don't think we can. Some people will be affected, but I suspect that most will not. Some people will act in reprehensible ways, and they will enjoy it. But I believe those people, if not for the game, would have found other ways to achieve those feelings, and maybe something bad would have happened in the real world. If that is true, then what's wrong with letting the evil bastards of the world work out their problems on virtual people?

We can point to a violent person, and we can say they played video games, and we can say they would not have done what they did if not for the game. I don't believe that, be we can say it. But, if we can say that, then why not point to the 600 million gamers who don't commit real war crimes after playing the same game, and then say, "They would have killed a lot of real people if it weren't for that game!"?

*This opinion was inspired by Claire Connelly's article, which can probably be found here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Winner

I  won #NaNoWriMo with 50,032 words. I'm only about two-thirds of the way through the story, and I have only a vague idea of how to end it, but I made the total word count.

I learned a few things along the way:

    1. I find it a lot easier to write if I have a solid idea or scene already formed in my mind. If I have a good solid scene in my head, I can whip out 500 words in no time at all, but if I only know I need to write a scene or two to get to that solid idea, it takes me a lot longer.

    2. But if I don't have a good idea of what to write next, I'm often pleasantly surprised by my own creativity. It's not unusual for characters or tidbits of information to seemingly come out of nowhere, and these surprises are often the most interesting thing I wrote that day.

    3. Short term goals are easier to achieve than long term goals. I've been hearing variations on this for years, but I now have solid, personal experience which proves it, and which has led to a shift in my thinking. NaNo showed me how to write 50,000 in 30 days by breaking it down into a daily word count. I'll will probably continue to approach my writing in the same way.

    4. I don't need to turn off my editor. I've heard that a lot. It seems to be one of NaNo's common bits of advice--turn off your internal editor, and just pump out the words. I'm not sure that advice is completely valid. I think it should be something more along the lines of, "Learn to work with your internal editor." If you work with that editor, your writing will be better--unless you listen to everything he or she says, and then you'll just want to stop writing. Listen, but you decide if it can wait until you know how to fix it, or if you can fix it now without interrupting your flow.

    5. Support systems help. It doesn't have to be much. Just tell your friends and family, especially that nosy aunt who will ask you about it every day. Or join a group online, or in your local community, and offer support to others. You'll be surprised how much positive motivation can come from this.

    6. If you want to be a writer--just write. Don't worry about what. Buy a journal and a pen, and fill a page every morning. Start a blog, and spill random chatter all over it--frequently. Or annoy your friends on Facebook and Google+ with your lousy poetry. Maybe you'll loose some friends, or maybe random strangers will want to read it. What matters it that you wrote something.

    7. You can't write all of the time. You shouldn't try. It you are stuck, and sitting there wishing you knew what to write, play a video game or watch a movie. Take a break when you need to take a break. Or, if you want to write, but don't know why you can't, write something personal--something you would never admit to another person--and then destroy it if you need to.


Friday, November 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Part Two

Well, I'm still on schedule to 'win' NaNoWriMo, and I have my writing done for today, so there's only five days of writing left. It's been an interesting experiment, and I wish I could say that I would keep writing every day, but I don't think I will. Motivation is increasingly becoming a problem, and I'll be lucky if I can squeeze five days of writing out of whatever is left of my tattered outlines.

I started the month with one main character, and full of intentions to carry on with her story all the way to the end, but I ran out of useful outline about half way through week two. I had more ideas, but they were wispy things, hardly complete, and only suggestive of outline material.

Fortunately, I had an outline for another main character in the same world, and their stories overlapped in the timeline, so I stirred in a second plot line, and that kept me going for another couple of weeks. That outline, plus integrating the two plots, offered more creative opportunities than either outline would have given me on their own, so I'm much happier about combining the two stories than I thought I would be when I made that decision.

Now I've got something with meat on it, but I only have a couple of solid scenes in mind right now, so I suspect that last few days are going to be a struggle. On the other hand, I've only got a few days left, and then I can put the story aside for a bit, and to let the ending coalesce in my subconscious--because I'm still not sure how it ends. It won't be a cliff hanger though. I hate to read books that don't end, and I never want to write one.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Memories of dreams
are wandering through my mind
like broken whispers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Social Options

    I've been trying to define the differences between Facebook and Google+ for a few months now, and I think it comes down to control. 
    On Google+, I have transparent and almost complete control over my stream. I can circle someone, or uncircle them if I'm not interested in what they have say. I can even block them if they keep sharing things I don't care about.
    On Facebook, I can 'like' and 'unlike', but Facebook wants to control my stream. They decide which are the top stories, or whether that post from a friend is important enough to show me. They have added controls to enable me to change the level of importance I want to see from each person or page, but they still decide the importance of each post.
    Sure, people can and do block me on Google+, but that is still about putting control into the hands of the users. Maybe that's a subtle difference, but for me, it's all the difference required to put Facebook in second or third place.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


That's my excuse for not writing more here. It's the only one I have. I'm on track to 'win', but barely keeping up.

Bred is for sale at Smashwords.com, but it will be a week or two before it's available at other online retailers. I've had very good responses from the few people who have read it, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. I may lower the price a bit, but I think I'm going to just make a bunch of coupons for promotional posts, and keep the normal price at $4.97. I picked that price just to give my 2 cents worth to Apple, who thinks every price should end with .99.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Lesson in Publishing

My first adventure in self-publishing a novel started a few months ago, and I've learned one very important thing. If the editor or artist can't give you an estimate on initial contact, contact someone else. The reasons for this reluctance to offer solid prices are specious, in my opinion. They're usually something like, "I don't want to scare people," or "They might want the moon for the price of cheese." If someone is going to get scared away by a price, they aren't going to be happy about it, even if they pay it. And if someone knows the moon costs $1000, and the cheese costs $100, they won't be surprise if they get charged $1000 for the moon. It's not rocket science.

An editor knows how much it will cost to edit, so there's no reason not to be open. If an editor doesn't want to be open about it, don't waste your time. Someone who can't even give you a range of possible costs is not someone you want editing your project. Don't pay for an estimate either. If an editor doesn't post prices on their web-site, and won't even offer examples of pricing unless you send them money first, find another editor. There's a lot of them out there, and many of them are clear about what they charge for specific services. Find one of those--or just contact Anna.

The same idea applies to artists. You can't charge by the word for images, but if the artist doesn't know how long it will take, and can't offer even a general range of prices, they should hire someone who can help with the business side, and they should concentrate on the art. If you trade four or five emails with an artist, over the course of a month, and you still don't have any idea how much it will cost, stop wasting your time. If you send an artist an idea of what you want, and they can't tell you something like, "I can do that for $100 - $500," find another artist. Or contact Chuck. Or DigitalDonna.

If the professional you've chosen to contact can't put a price on something right away, find another artist or editor. Just move forward with your project, no matter how much you wanted that first choice. And for goodness sake, don't sign anything until you are sure.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Social Discussion

If you look at social media through the normal lens, the 'user profile' glasses, it all kind of looks the same. One of the things writers do is swap out the lenses. So what are the alternatives?

I thought maybe a chicken farm, or maybe an egg farm. I have no idea if or how much difference might be between those, but to use some marketing terms, I put Google in the 'free range' category, while Facebook is more like 'caged'. I'm not sure about Twitter... game hens maybe.

But now I think these social media sites are about conversation. Maybe you want a debate, with rules or such, or maybe you want to hang with friends and be in the now. And I think that's why users get upset when the rules of conversation change.

The whole point of social media is participation, and there are rules. You have 'like' or 'follow' before anything happens. You converse by those rules, and then they change, just a little bit, and it's no longer the same conversation. That can be very annoying.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Government actions matter less then their willingness to admit them.

Executing an innocent man is wrong, mistake or not. Maintaining a secret prison is worse, no matter how comfortable the prisoners.

Bombing an innocent village is wrong, no matter the reason. Covering it up is worse.

If my government is keeping secrets from me, do I have real representation? What does taxation without representation mean? How much say does that give me? How can I know which secrets should be kept if I don't know what they are?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Royal Balance

The Seelie Court would say, "May the divine winds carry you to paradise."

The Unseelie Court would say, "May you suffer a painful accident and die."

Those two statements mean the same thing, but Unseelie only say it when they mean it and are willing to make arrangements. Seelie would never admit such a thing had ever crossed their minds--would you like an apple?

Or maybe it's the other way around. You can never tell with faeries--at least not until someone's heart has been ripped out.

Both courts would say, "The thing about humans is you can always find another side to be on."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Can something in life be both crappy and comfortable? The life partner or the life coach or the traffic light or the shopping mall--can they be comfortable, and still have a loose spring?

Or maybe life is only comfortable if you don't struggle against the bindings?

Is that sort of comfort a reason to be happy? If you aren't in pain, and no one is trying eat you right this minute, is that enough to be happy? Sheared or slaughtered, what does it matter tomorrow?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Why is it always the stupid thoughts circling in my mind like a pack of wild dogs?
How do you scare away the dogs when it's too dark to find the fire?
Why are the dogs wild?
Why not vultures?
How can it be too dark to see fire?
What does any of this have to do with obsession?
Will these questions ever be answered?

Monday, August 22, 2011


There are many theories of multiple universes, some mathematical, some fantastical, and some just plan boring. I tend to stand on the fence between math and fantasy, and deny there's a difference. [There isn't, so stop lying to me.]

The theory I had in mind when I started this post has escaped my attention, but I submit for argument two known ways of travel between universes. 1. A series of stairways, up or down, built into the very fabric of reality, each stairway twisting into a mobius stripe between two separate universes. 2. A temporary portal. I'm not sure why it's temporary, but probably something to do with connections between universes being limited in some way to make the story more interesting.

Um . . . So there are a number of video games which use this concept, and maybe I stole it and maybe I didn't, but as a story device it could be a lot of fun to play with.

Deist Thoughts

I have faith in time;
I believe in our free will;
and I worship life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working with an Editor

The process of working with an editor starts today. I'm freaking out.

I need a book cover too. I'm looking into having an artist design it for me. The prices I've seen vary from 300 to 800 dollars. Do you think it matters for an ebook? Everyone judges books by the covers, no matter what common wisdom says.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Time rushes inwards,
from every direction.
Now is always now.

Asynchronous Observations

I would argue that we lack fundamental data when making observations of distant objects. A few light years distance is irrelevant to the basic argument--that if time is a key component of location, our observations become increasingly meaningless as distance increases. I think that's what I mean, but I'm a bit confused now.

Time and location are parts of a whole, which we see as we see it. Locations which are hundreds, thousands, millions . . . of lights years away, are locations we see as history gone by. Our temporal state, our now, is out of sync with the location we are observing.

Are we missing the temporal data we need to truly understand what we are seeing? Are all of our observations based on the speed of light. Our observations are temporal--nothing without the passage of time. Is there a distortion of some kind, when our present intersects with another observer's past?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Evolution is the Death of Our Species

Maybe that is what really scares those fundamentalist Christians. Right? If God is using evolution (gasp) as His mechanism of Creation, then maybe He's not done with us yet.

That's kinda scary. Right? So these true believers can't believe in evolution, because it breaks their belief in themselves as the center of God's Universe. Like God has nothing better to do than make life easier for some random exile from the Garden of Eden.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vampires are the New Elves

That idea might be a bit dated now, and I'm probably not the only one to say that, but I just thought of a new twist . . . new to me anyway.

What if Elves were Vampires all along? What if they are the same thing, and always have been?


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Political Tug of War

BamBam and Boner were having this political tug of war, and Boner wasn't loosing so much as holding position. Then BamBam let go of the rope, which made Boner happy and allowed him to declare his team (the GOP) the winners.

But now they are just lying there in the mud, and everyone is wondering what they are going to do with the rope now that they have it. I can't decide if BamBam gave them the rope to hang themselves, or so they will look bad when they try to lynch BamBam.

[Yeah, I said 'lynch'. It's might be the 21st century for most of us, but parts of the GOP haven't caught up yet.]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Memory of Time

Time is the counting.
Fire is the memory.
Life is the passage.

The Power of Observation

Science has started to question the role of the observer in the expression of reality--the two slit experiment wherein the result changes based on whether the photons are being observed going through the slits or not, is a good example.

So I postulate that God (for those of you who believe), or 'the universe in general' (for those who are more concerned about the mundane aspects of reality), is the ultimate observer. All knowing and all powerful is the same as everything in a reality which is only real when being observed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Induction Pressure

Call it 'social induction'. The world we live in today, tech etc., is the result of social induction. Our knowledge and education cycles act like an induction coil, sort of reinforcing the motivational factors of society until you come up with things like induction coils and computers. It's a sort of knowledge singularity created from induction/education. Stop the education--the power--stop the induction. Without education, our tech would collapse like the magnetic field in induction does when you turn off the juice.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Unnecessary Lies

Unnecessary additions to a story tend to bother me. If an author puts something or someone into a story, it should be done for a reason. If there is no reason, I find it annoying.

One lie I find annoying in modern fantasies is when fictional worlds are forced into our reality by making the monsters and magic a total secret from the rest of the world. I guess I can understand the desire to bring vampires and fae and whatever into our world, but it is fiction after all. Why do these modern fantasies need to have anything to do with our world?

Some authors (Laurell K. Hamilton) write about worlds like ours, but not--where monsters are real and everyone knows about them, if not the details. These worlds skip the unnecessary lies--the ones which rely on fictional secrets to keep the masses from panicking. Now the unnecessary lies are sneaking into TV and movies. Maybe they were already there. Maybe I'm the only one in the world who finds this annoying.

On the other hand, if I ever write a book about vampires and werewolves and whatnot, I might throw in some quantum theory and a bit of magical thinking (is there a difference?). Everyone in my modern fantasy would create and live in his or her own universe, and they would overlap where the reality perceived by each person matched. No one would notice the differences unless they had training.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Temporal Entanglement

We tend to think of time as an element or dimension which can be separated or filtered from the general idea of space. Conceptually, I believe that is true, but as a fundamental law of the universe, it doesn't seem complete.

There is evidence that time travel is possible, or that time can be ignored by entangled particles, and it is these two vaguely related ideas which I have combined into my own pseudo-scientific theory called "Temporal Entanglement".

If we make time an essential element of space--not just time, but that time which happened in that space--then time is unique to location. It's possible the location could be as small as a photon, or maybe within our own minds.

A time machine would have to tap into the entangled properties of space/time, or it wouldn't work, like that thing that doctor uses. The good news is the machine wouldn't go careening off into solid rock or unexpected vacuum because it moved in time, but not in space.

I'm sure I had a better point to make when I started writing this. . . .

More scotch.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Body Mods

NPR just did this bit on circumcision. To be honest, I merely glanced at the article, so it's only important in that it made me question the practice.

How many people would allow their child to be tattooed or pierced as an infant? How many people would cut off fingers or toes or ears or noses or lips from their infant boy?

And yet circumcision is a matter of religion, or 'cleanliness'! How does that make sense?

Sunday, July 3, 2011


An argument on the nature of reality goes something like this: Reality is created by observation. Without observation, there would be only a cloud of probabilities--chaos.

An alternate argument would be that reality is not created, but interpreted, and we see not reality, but a dim and filtered version. Chaos is only chaos because we do not and possibly cannot understand true reality.

In the first, we define reality by what we know. In the second, we define reality by what we don't know. In both, we define reality.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thought Censors

I speculate on this internet; streams of thought writ in bits. Burned into webpages as if they were digital neurons.

They want to censor--the leaders and rulers and power holders--for our own good. For the good of the economy. For the children.

All good intentions.

But this is thought--on a social level, and on a global scale. Do you wonder if your thoughts are censored?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Decision

I've been a writer for more than 30 years, but I am not yet a published author. I don't have any horror stories about the publishing industry, or copyright grabs, or predator editors, because I've never really tried to enter the world of traditional publishing. I submitted a couple of short stories when I was in high school, but I never really made an effort.

After speaking with multiple authors at Science Fiction Conventions and learning how much work and effort goes into every novel, I decided I would write for myself, and worry about getting published later, if at all. To that end, I started keeping a personal journal. I wrote down dreams and bought books to help with writing exercises. I learned how to turn off (or mute) that little editor in my head which tells when something I write is stupid or wrong. After I learned how to turn him off, I learned when to turn him back on to write something I wanted to share. It's amazing how much easier it is to write that first draft if you can shut-up your internal editor.

Fast forward some 24 years when ebooks are finally making a mark in the world, and I just happen to have a (nearly) finished manuscript ready to go. A few hours of research, another Science Fiction Convention, and I now know I need to hire a professional editor before I dump my nearly finished manuscript on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

I sent off part of my manuscript to a full-service editor I met at Miscon. The estimate for developmental and copy editing was full of praise, and seems to have raised hopes of something interesting and fun to edit, but it was very high. After careful consideration, I've decided my manuscript has been in development for years, so I can safely go with a cheaper 'polishing' service. I've got a couple of months to wait, so I may record the book as a podcast and see if reading it out loud (again) will help me to fix any remaining problems.