For he today that sheds his blog with me, shall be my brother

clock3

Greetings and good wishes.  It’s Thursday, and thus time for a new blog post.  Another week has passed.  It may well still exist in a General Relativistic “block universe,” but that for those of us who live within the perceived flow of time it’s gone forever.

I hope you’re all doing well.  This time next week will be roughly the date of the vernal equinox, after which, in the northern hemisphere, daytime will be longer than nighttime for six months.  That’s something pleasant for most of us to anticipate (I say “most” because, unless I’m mistaken, the majority of the human race lives in the northern hemisphere…please correct me if I’m wrong).  Also, of course, for us Americans who don’t live in Arizona, last Sunday was the morning of “springing forward,” when we move our clocks ahead an hour in obedience to the whims of Daylight Savings Time (for most clocks I use, the computers themselves did that job).

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, by the way, so if any of my readers know him, please take a moment to wish him the best and happiest of possible days.  He certainly deserves it; it’s not his fault that he has a sibling like me.

In all seriousness, he’s a heck of a guy.  I think I’m being quite honest in saying that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.  My parents certainly did an excellent job with my older brother, and before him with my older sister.  I guess by the time I was born they were just too exhausted to keep up the good work.

I’m kidding, of course.  They did just as good a job with me.  It’s simply a brute fact that, every now and then, a factory will produce a lemon, through no fault of anyone who works there.

Speaking of myself—which is mainly what I do here—it’s been interesting to discover how personal my new story (working title: Safety Valve) is.  That’s the one that started out as a simple short story notion, and which I hadn’t really planned to write at this time but decided to do rather than another story that was too similar in genre to its predecessor.  Now, obviously, it’s a story idea that I had, and which I wrote down, so it comes from me, but it’s remarkable to realize how much meat the idea has, and how much it touches the feelings and experiences of my life.  I’m not sure that this will be obvious to the story’s eventual readers, but it really does have a visceral resonance with me that’s quite unexpected.  This may not be entirely a good thing.  It doesn’t make the writing, or the story, especially joyful, but it does make the process gripping…which is good, because the story is far from finished.

At the same time, I’m puttering along on the editing of Unanimity, which is going to be a long process.  I need to pick up the pace a bit.  I also need to start editing Free Range Meat, my most recent short story.  That’s almost certainly going to be my next published bit of fiction, and there’s no good reason for it to take very long.

In other news, my notion to set aside certain moments during the day—my equivalent of “smoke breaks”—to produce blog posts for Iterations of Zero has not panned out as planned.  However, though “you can’t always get what you want,” it turns out that “if you try sometimes, you get what you need” *.  In this case, I decided to do what I’d meant to do in writing for IoZ as audio instead.  I’ve already recorded and edited a highly non-focused first episode.  I’ll be posting it shortly, probably this very day, and I invite anyone who’s interested, and who has roughly a half-hour of idle time, to listen to it.  I’d dearly love some feedback, as I have no idea how good, bad, or ugly it might be.  At least, I have no idea that isn’t colored by my own point of view.

And, speaking of disjointed collections of thoughts—which I was; see for yourself—this week’s blog post seems about done.  Once again, I wish all of you a tremendous surfeit of happiness, a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction, and a statistically implausible amount of good luck.

TTFN


*I forget who said that

But I am constant as the northern star, of whose true-fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the blogosphere.

Julius

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another installment of my weekly blog.  It’s the first Thursday in March of 2019.  [This is just one of many declarations of the patently obvious that you can often find here.  Enjoy!]

I’ve had a relatively eventful week, at least as far as writing goes.  I think I mentioned last time that I was feeling under the weather; I’m still fighting the tail end of that illness, but it’s on its way out, so I’m not complaining.  Of course, I’ve continued to write my novella, the working title of which is Safety Valve.

Also, I’ve begun editing Unanimity.

I don’t know if I was fooling any of you, but I don’t think I was fooling myself with the occasional thought that I might go beyond the bare minimum break time of a month that I’d set for myself before starting to edit.  Shakespeare wrote that “men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive.  Yet in that number I do know but one that unassailable holds on his rank, unshaked of motion.”  Well…that I am not he, let me a little show it, even in this:  that, though I successfully enforced upon myself the minimum wait that I had required before returning to Unanimity, there was just no way that I was going to hold out any longer than that.

In addition to this blog, and to my fiction writing, I’ve been positively aching to write some “Iterations of Zero” posts…which is to say, discussions of nearly any subject matter in science, politics, philosophy, psychology, etc., that don’t deal directly with my fiction.  There are huge masses of subjects about which I want to comment, from General Relativity to vaccination, to the cosmic perspective about everyday life, to mathematics, and so on and on.

Many such thoughts and ideas are triggered by items I encounter on Facebook.  These are topics about which I want to comment in no uncertain terms, but often I fear that such commentary might hurt the feelings of friends or family.  This is not because I’m especially mean in the way I put things; I try very hard to be polite, and I take no joy in insulting others, generally.  It just happens that, sometimes, when one says what one thinks is the truth, even if one is being careful, one hurt people’s feelings.

Even worse, commenting on memes and posts often initiates back-and-forth discussions, debates, and/or arguments, of a type which can easily become acrimonious…something I find terribly unpleasant.  All of which leads me not even to want to get on social media at all.  Such interactions bring out a very negative side of my personality, and I don’t like that piece of me.

For this reason, I’ve been on Facebook much more intermittently of late.  This is a problem, because Facebook is really my only means of socialization, my only connection with many people who matter to me.  Most importantly, it is my main route of interaction with my daughter.  Yet seeing so much misinformation and disinformation and misunderstanding about topics in which I have expertise—or just about which I have thoughts—without responding can be maddening and depressing.

Perhaps it’s egotistical of me to want to write about such subjects, but I’m okay with that; writing is egotistical to begin with.  So, I’ve decided to try a new approach to how I write nonfiction:

I work in an office in which there are quite a few smokers, and of course, several times throughout the day, smokers tend to step outside for a cigarette…or for whatever they smoke.  That’s fine, that’s their decision, but these are obviously moments in which such people are not, strictly speaking, working.  So, in parity, I’ve created a Word file called, “This is my smoke break” and during periods when others go outside to smoke, I’ll write and/or at least a page a day on some topic on which I want to comment.  Once such a subject gets in decent enough shape that it’s worth sharing with the public, I’ll post it on “Iterations of Zero.”

Hopefully this will help me scratch my itch and keep me able to abstain from comments on Facebook without feeling bad about myself…and will also keep me from feeling bad about myself because I’ve commented on Facebook.  We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, and as always, my primary concern is my fiction, whether writing it or editing it (or promoting it, which I don’t do enough of), and that’s what I’ll continue to work on first thing every day.  I hope you all stick with me through thick and thin, and that you enjoy my already-published and my upcoming works.  Many such journeys are possible, and I hope to bring as many people along for the ride as I can on each of them.

You should buckle up, though.  It can get a bit bumpy, and I’m not the most cautious of pilots.

TTFN

 

It warms the very sickness in my heart, that I shall live and tell him to his teeth, “Thus bloggest thou.”

Good day to you all!

It’s the last day of February in 2019, and it’s another (hopefully happy) Thursday, so it must be time for my weekly blog post.  I’m feeling rather under the weather today, though I’m still going in to work.  Because I’m still a little poorly, I’m probably not going to write all that much this time…though I’ve been wrong about such things before.  Sometimes, once I get writing, it’s hard for me to stop.

Since February will be over tomorrow, I could, in principle, begin rewriting/editing Unanimity, from which I’ve successfully forced myself to take a break this month.  I doubt, however, that I’m going to take up that task on the first occasion on which I could allow myself to do so.  I still have Safety Valve, my novella, to work on; it’s coming along nicely, but it’s definitely going to be longer than a mere short story.  Also, there’s my previous short story to edit and rewrite.  I’m not going to wait until I’ve finished with Unanimity before starting on that task, of course.  That would be madness!  So, what I’ll probably do—this is a tentative plan, by no means a binding commitment—is to continue to write daily on the new material until it’s done, but perhaps to limit myself to one or at most two pages a day, and then use the rest of my writing time on those days to edit.

As for how I’m going to divvy up the editing, I expect that Unanimity is going to dominate my time, with only one to two days a week reserved for the short story and then the novella.  In any case, sometime over the coming months, I expect to publish first my short story, then the novella, then (finally) Unanimity.  There’s much to which to look forward if you’re a follower of my work!  I suppose there’s probably much to which to look forward even if you’re not a follower of my work, but on that subject, I have less information.  Also, if you’re not pedantic about preposition placement, you may very well have much to look forward to.

***

Okay, I just spaced out there for a good five minutes or so, which provides further evidence—if any were needed—that I’m not quite feeling my usual self.  Because of that, I think I’m going to pretty much wrap things up here for today.  I apologize for this post’s brevity, though that may not be unwelcome for many of you, and I apologize for the fact that I really haven’t said much of substance.  I do have all sorts of ideas and urges for articles to be posted on Iterations of Zero, including one explaining some of the basics of general relativity, (triggered by a recent interaction on Facebook), and others that would constitute my response to many of the biases and misconceptions involved in the anti-vaccination movement.  But finding the time and energy to put those out without pilfering both resources from my fiction, and while still keeping up with my “day job”, is daunting.

“Had we but world enough, and time…”*

TTFN


*Side note:  I decided to re-check on this quote, the opening line of Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and I discovered, to my mild chagrin—but not to my surprise, since there must have been a reason for my decision to check—that for years I have been slightly misquoting the line as “If we had world enough, and time.”  This does not change the sense of the phrase at all, so it’s a misquote of no real import.  Still, I tend to be pedantic about such things, so I’m glad that my unconscious mind drove me to check it out.  Of such minor triumphs is a feeling of self-improvement, real or illusory, constructed.

Nymph, in thy orisons be all my blogs remember’d

It’s interesting how these things happen.  As you’ll know, if you’ve been following this blog, I finished the first draft of Unanimity at the end of January, and I decided to take a break from it at least through this month (February) before going back to begin the rewriting/editing.  During the break, my intention was to write, and possibly to rewrite and edit, one or two short stories, the choice of the first of which I had made ahead of time.  This much has gone precisely according to plan:  the first draft of that first story is completed.

Then, I had to decide what story to write next.  As I’ve detailed elsewhere, the one I originally had in mind was of too similar a character to the one I’d just finished.  So, I went to my list of (electronically) jotted-down story ideas and found one that was different enough, and interesting enough, to work on, and I started writing.

Well…this story idea, and the protagonist who came along with it, has turned out to be surprisingly deep and engaging, though I have no idea if anyone else will share my assessment.  The character’s back-story and his life experiences resonate strongly with me, so I’m not only having quite a nice time writing about him, but the story has a lot more meat than I would have expected.  It may well turn out to be more a novella than a short story.

Yes, I know, many of my “short stories” stray well over the border and into the No Man’s Land between short story and novella.  This makes me particularly grateful for e-book publishing, since it’s hard to imagine any old-school magazines publishing such stories out of length considerations, though I suppose serialization might have been possible.  This new story, though, with a very tentative title of Safety Valve, is going to end up being even more involved than is usual for me.  It doesn’t merit a full-length novel, but it’s not going to be finished in twenty or so pages, either.  In fact, it’s already reached twenty pages, and there’s quite a lot more to tell.

Of course, by nature I tend to take more of a “Cheesecake Factory” approach to writing than a “Seasons 52” approach.  This isn’t good if one is trying to watch one’s weight, as I know only too well, but when it comes to stories…well, you can’t gain weight from reading a story (nor from writing one, thank goodness).  In fact, given that the brain consumes a tremendous portion of the body’s energy budget—about twenty percent—you may burn extra calories by reading a longer story, as long as you don’t snack while doing so.

I’m pleased, bordering on delighted, to have found this story so engaging, especially since I came up with the raw idea off-the-cuff, some time ago, and just added it to the “Quick Memo” file on my smartphone.  That practice has turned out to be quite a useful one.  Incidentally, I had behaved similarly with the germ for the other story I just finished.  The “Quick Memo” habit works beautifully, at least for me, and I don’t mind throwing it out there as possibly useful for others.  We might as well take advantage of the little technological marvels that we carry with us.  We can thus avoid the classic nightmare:  a good idea occurs to us while we’re on the job, or in bed, or in some other situation in which we can’t immediately turn to it in earnest, and by the time we find an appropriate location or time, the idea is lost…“and enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.”

Who would have thought that the words of Shakespeare would apply so well to taking notes on one’s smartphone?  Well, anyone who’s read much Shakespeare might think such a thing.  His work is incredibly powerful and broadly pertinent, worthy of deepest admiration and even excusable envy.  “If I could grow apples like that, I would call myself a gardener.”*

Well, that’s enough self-indulgence for another Thursday.  I hope the weather’s reasonably good wherever you may be, and that your week has been tolerable, and perhaps even wonderful.

TTFN


*This is not a quote from Shakespeare, by the way.  Do you know its source?  Valuable brownie points will be awarded to anyone who does and who states it in the comments below!

But thy eternal summer shall not fade nor lose possession of that fair thou blogest

Greetings, good morning, hello, and redundant salutations!  I hereby wish a happy Valentine’s Day to those who have cause to celebrate it.  It’s Thursday morning and time for another of my weekly blog posts.  We’re almost two-thirds of the way through winter—a term that has only limited meaning here in south Florida—and the approach of springtime is becoming at least a plausible hypothesis.

It’s been a productive week, all things considered, at least for me; I can’t speak for anyone else.  On Tuesday morning, I finished the first draft of my latest short story and found I had some time and energy left.  I pulled out the half-finished draft of In the Shade, thinking that I would write on it a bit, but then it occurred to me that it and the story I’d just completed were very much in the same sub-genre.  I didn’t want to work on them so close together, lest I bore my readers and—even worse—myself.  Yet another story I considered writing also was in a vaguely similar vein, though a bit more divergent.  Not to be discouraged, I activated my trusty memo app and read through my jotted-down story ideas.  There I found one that would make for a nice change of pace.  I immediately began writing it, and by yesterday had already produced six pages.

When writing first paragraph of this post, regarding the time of year and today’s holiday, it occurred to me to wonder just why we have a “romantic” celebration during what is, in much of the northern hemisphere, a bitter time of year.  Of course, it’s a recently-invented holiday, not one that’s been celebrated back into antiquity in one form or another, as so many of the major holidays have been.  Perhaps that’s enough of an explanation.  There’s a long, barren stretch of time between New Years and the next big holiday cycle at Easter/Passover, after all (I’m not going to count Saint Patrick’s Day).  And, of course, holidays have great commercial value, with seasonal cards and items always dominating the displays of even pharmacies, let alone malls and department stores.

Still, that doesn’t seem quite adequate to explain the day, and especially not the specific type of holiday that it is.  The middle of February seems to me an odd time to celebrate romance.  I suppose one might say that, in ancestral times, perhaps this was a month in which people tended even more so than usual to huddle together at night for warmth, with a consequent increase in expressions of (ahem) physical affection.  But if there is a historical surge in birth rates in roughly the month of November, such as one might expect if that scenario is right, then I haven’t heard of it.

Perhaps I simply don’t know enough about the history of Valentine’s Day even to hazard a guess.  Isn’t it officially called “Saint Valentine’s Day”?  Was Saint Valentine even a real, formally canonized person, or is he one of those fictional saints one encounters from time to time, like Saint Kitt and Saint Gandalf?

In the era of Google and Wikipedia, I could readily find the answers to these questions if I so chose, and the fact that I haven’t seems to show that I’m not troubled enough to seek them out.  Perhaps at some point I will be.  For now, though, since my resources of time, memory, and energy are finite, I must be choosy about where I spend them.

The fact that I’m halfway through February (as are all of you, at least at the time of this writing) means that I’m halfway through the minimum duration of my post-draft hiatus on Unanimity.  I’ve had little trouble resisting its call so far, mainly because I’ve been writing new stuff.  In fact, I may wait until after I’ve finished and edited and published both of my current short stories before getting back to Unanimity…but, then again, I doubt it.  For commercial/marketing reasons, I think at most I’ll complete the editing and publishing of one of those two stories, then allow a bit of a lag between it and the publication of the next, so there isn’t too big a gap between the release times of any two new works.  Whether or not this matters is difficult for me to tell, but at least it keeps me occupied.

Hmm…this week’s post feels slightly disjointed and unfocused, doesn’t it?  That’s okay, though; they can’t all be gems of clarity and unity.  Sometimes a blog post is just a chance to get out random thoughts and to share a few minor tidbits of news with people who might be interested.  I’m unable to be objective about whether or not a particular form of post is better or worse than others, and opinions and judgments will probably vary from person to person, anyway.  You’re welcome to share your thoughts with me.  In the meantime, stay warm and, if you’re one of those contemptibly lucky people who have good reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day, enjoy it.

TTFN

I would forget it fain, but oh, it presses to my memory, like damnèd guilty deeds to bloggers’ minds.

Hello, good Thursday, and welcome to yet another weekly edition of my blog, that electronic periodical which so many people find so necessary for their ongoing well-being.

I must confess, this morning I almost didn’t write this blog.  I boarded the train, took out my computer, and just started work on my new short story.  From this, you can conclude—if you’re as clever as my readers tend to be—that I am writing a new short story, and that I’m enthusiastic about it.  That conclusion would be correct.  It’s going to be a reasonably short short story, at least for me; after five and half “days” of writing, it’s nearly done, at just a little over twelve-thousand words.  It’s not a deep story; there’s no message to be conveyed, as far as I know…except perhaps to be careful, even if you have the best of intentions, because there are people—and <<things>>—in the world that will take advantage of your beneficence, to your cost.  But most of us learn that lesson early in life.

In any case, I only started this week’s blog entry after I realized—well into the day’s writing—that I was working on the “wrong” project.  Thus, I’ll keep this brief.  If that disappoints you, I apologize.  If you’re gleeful about it, well, why in the world do you read my blog in the first place?

I must say, it feels peculiar not to be working on Unanimity any more for the time being.  At some level, it’s a welcome break; as the old Chicago song says, even lovers need a holiday.  Yet, contrariwise, even the most harried of parents often start to miss their children when they’ve been away to summer camp for a few weeks.

Boy, this bag of mixed metaphors tastes delicious, doesn’t it?

The bottom line is that I’m going to need to exert some effort of will to keep from working on editing Unanimity during the month of February.  I beg you to help me if I falter!

Of course, as you’ve probably seen, Penal Colony is available for purchase for Kindle, and I finally added an entry here for it as well…though I haven’t yet put it in the “My Books” page, since I’m lazy when it comes to little things like that.  I do, of course, invite you to read the story.  If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t want to spend the ninety-nine cents, I offer two alternatives.  First, Penal Colony—like, I think, all my works—is available on Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read it for free if you use that service.  If that isn’t a tenable solution for you, then I offer you this:  if you’re really uncertain that you want to spend the money for my stories, long or short, I offer—at least to the first several people who ask—to buy the story for them (or one of my other stories, if you prefer).  I would need an email address to do this, since a Kindle story purchased for someone else requires an email to which to send a link.  Then, even if it’s your first ever Kindle purchase, you can download the app for free, and see whether or not you like my works.  This has the benefit for me of being both superficially generous and deeply narcissistic at the same time; it’s a win-win scenario.

With that, I think I’ll cut things short for this week, adding only that I may soon start hitting a wall of increasing difficulty with respect to Shakespearean quotes for my weekly blog titles.  It may seem hard to imagine this being an absolute difficulty—Shakespeare wrote an awful lot, after all.  Still, not every line is truly worth quoting, even with Shakespeare (gasp!).  Also, I have to find quotes into which I can work some version of the word “blog”, and that can be somewhat difficult.  But, well…life is hard.  Just know that, if you see me give a post a title such as “Blog Post for February 7th, 2019”, you’ll know that I came up dry that week.

TTFN

Penal Colony

 

Penal Colony cover

See on Amazon

 

While heading for his car after a night out celebrating the closing of a big deal at work, Paul Taylor meets a strange, despondent man, poorly dressed for the cold, who seems horribly depressed by some personal setback. Still slightly drunk on both alcohol and success, Paul invites the man for a cup of coffee and some food at a nearby all-night diner.

There, this peculiar man tells Paul of a conspiracy begun by the creators of various social and virtual media companies…and of technology that allowed these conspirators to control the minds of the people of the world for their own personal enrichment. He tells of the overthrow of that conspiracy by a group of which he had been part…a group which had then turned on and “exiled” him.

Though the man’s story is engaging, and the man himself is personally convincing, Paul is forced to admit that he has heard of no such conspiracy or overthrow.

The man finally explains to Paul why he hasn’t heard of it. It’s an answer that Paul cannot believe…