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.

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

This blog of darkness I acknowledge mine.

For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you’ll probably be relieved to read that this will almost certainly be the last time I’m going to write, “work on Unanimity is proceeding well.”  As predicted, I should be finished with the first draft of that novel by this time next week, barring illness and/or accident.  It’s been a long haul, and though the editing and rewriting that follows will surely be a laborious task, at least this stage will be finished.  It is, by far, the longest book that I’ve ever written.

In a similar vein, you may also be pleased to learn that I won’t be speaking much more about Penal Colony*, for that story is all but ready to be published.  It may well be available by this time next week.  In many ways it’s a much lighter-hearted tale than Unanimity, to say nothing of being shorter, but it deals with a few of the same themes and ideas—namely the possibility of insidious threats to personal autonomy, and the possibly illusory nature of such a thing in the first place.

Don’t worry, though, if you don’t like to deal with serious ideas or themes when you read a story.  I’m no highbrow literatus at heart, however much I love Shakespeare.  One of the problems I often had with literature courses in college was that I never had the knack—or perhaps the interest—for trying to dissect works of fiction for deep meanings and hidden messages.  I just read stories to enjoy them.  With Shakespeare, at least, I’m darn near sure he wrote to entertain people.  This explains why I tended to get better grades in Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics than in English courses.  You didn’t have to try to figure out how to say something the professor thought was insightful, or that agreed with his or her personal take on a given work.  In math and science, if you know the material, you pretty much can get the right answer.

So, you don’t need to worry about my stories being unnecessarily complicated or deep.  I do, of course, tend automatically to put into them whatever I’m pondering at any given time, as I suspect any author does, and in real life I’ve been told that I tend to invite chaos.  But chaos can make for good stories.  It’s an odd fact of human nature, but things we like to read, or to watch, or the games we like to play, are rarely what most of us would ever want to experience if we could avoid them.  This has been said, and far better, by many others before me.

I plan on taking most of the month of February off from any editing or rewriting Unanimity, following Stephen King’s advice in his book On Writing.  We’ll see if I can meet that ideal; I make no guarantees.  If I’m able, though, it means that next month will be one in which I can dedicate myself entirely to new stories.  I have one or two works of short fiction that I hope to finish in that time.  Then will begin the proverbial wading-through-blood of making Unanimity fit to be read by other people.

It’s gonna be a while before that’s done.

In other news:  I’m always trying to think of ways to make my parallel blog—Iterations of Zero—work for me and with my schedule, and I may try something new with it.  I’m a fan of a few podcasts, and I am also an enthusiastic consumer of Audible books, especially nonfictions ones.  My own commute-based listening has convinced me that, however much I want to participate in, promote, and preserve the art and craft of written language, it may be useful to do more audio work, sharing thoughts and ideas that I’d planned eventually to turn into written blog posts.  As you know, I’ve done audio (and associated “video”) of three of my short stories and nine chapters of CatC, and I’ve developed a modicum of skill at using the medium, so I may start posting some more audio stuff on IoZ…perhaps starting by reading aloud some posts I’ve written previously.  Further bulletins on this as events develop.

Finally, a forewarning:  I’m planning, hopefully sooner rather than later, to rewrite the “About Me” section of this blog.  I wrote that piece many years ago now, and when I read it now, it just feels like I’m trying too hard.  I also left out a fair few of the more unpleasant but pivotal things that have happened to me.  I suppose this is understandable, even excusable, but I must remember my above-noted insight that unpleasant stories are often interesting to read.  Mainly, though, I just want to be honest about myself, as much as I’m able, and anyone who’s read my fiction can probably tell that a jolly, happy-go-lucky Dr. Pangloss I am not.

Also, if one is open even about the most embarrassing aspects of one’s life, then one need not fear that those events can be used against one, even inadvertently.  I’m in some ways fortunate that many of my most damaging personal tales are already matters of public record; my personal darkness is rather well-illuminated.  If it contains the sorts of things that would drive you away from me if they were to be revealed later, then by all means, stay away now.

I am what I am, I’m my own special destruction.

But destruction and creation aren’t mutually exclusive, they’re just ways of looking at the processes of change.  And at this stage of the universe, embroiled as we are in the long transition from order to entropy, change is something with which you’re just gonna have to deal.  It doesn’t ask your permission, it doesn’t need your approval, and it will certainly never seek your forgiveness.

TTFN


Here’s a peek at the planned cover picture:

penal colony cover 2

I’ll have my blogs ta’en out and buttered, and give them to a dog for a new-year’s gift

Hello, good morning, and welcome to the last Thursday of 2018.

I had three consecutive days off work this week, the longest such stretch in quite some time that didn’t involve sad family events.  To the surprise of no one, I did not get any writing done over those three days—no new work on Unanimity, and no editing on Penal Colony.

Because of this, there’s not much for me to say today.  I have, except on the three aforementioned days off, continued to make good progress.  In Unanimity, I’ve reached the final confrontation that will resolve the outcome of the book, but its development involves some flashbacks, for reasons of dramatic tension.  I think this will work well, but in the end, readers must judge for themselves.  In any case, there’s a great deal of work to do before the book will be ready for anyone but me to read and judge.  Such is the way of things.

I hope you all have a wonderful time on New Year’s Eve and a relatively painless recovery on New Year’s Day.  When next we meet here, it will be 2019.  I have a silly, semi-fun dread of the coming year, since in much of the Stephen King multiverse, the number 19 is one of terrible omen.  Of course, I don’t actually subscribe to any form of numerology, unless one counts my true and deep love (occasionally unrequited) of mathematics itself.  It’s just fun to imagine what might happen if that number really were a harbinger of evil.

The fact that I find such thoughts fun is probably why I tend to sneak “horror” into most of what I write, intentionally or not.

I first clearly recognized this about myself in high school, when I wrote my first full-length novel, Ends of the Maelstrom.  This was a sort of cross-over fantasy/sci-fi adventure novel involving multiple universes, in which beings of godlike power used magic and/or ultra-high technology to battle for the fate of our universe and ultimately all the other realms of the multiverse.  The story’s ultimate villain, the Talberod, had obliterated whole galaxies to demonstrate his power, but he nevertheless had a code of honor and a strong moral sense.  In contrast, the hero was more than willing to lie and cheat to win.  These are far from new twists, of course, but I felt pretty proud of them as a high school student.  Alas, that novel is lost to time and bitter circumstance, though one day I may seek to recreate it.

In any case, during the larger course of that story, I inserted little interludes detailing smaller-scale levels of the invasion, including a series in which a demonic being called Chrayd, for personal enjoyment, preys on numerous random humans from our world (before finally being killed by a lucky and courageous one of those same humans, whom Chrayd “salutes” even as he dies).  These latter sequences amounted to mini horror stories in the middle of my larger epic, though I only recognized them as such after the fact.  They were also the parts of the novel that were the most fun to write and—I suspect—were the most gripping to read.

Similarly, on those rare occasions when I’ve written Harry Potter fanfics, they’ve tended to turn out in rather…well, let’s just say that Harry has done some very dark, bad things.

We use the tools that we are given.

And that’s about it for now.  As usual, it’s more than I expected to write.  This is another gift or tool given to me.  I can’t really claim any credit for it, and it’s occasionally frustrating (for readers even more than for me, I suspect), but whataya gonna do?

Again, I wish you the best of all possible new years.  19 may be a number of ill-omen in the Stephen King universe, and it is certainly a prime number…but 2019 is not prime.  Let us then therefore give honor to the beloved goddess of irony by turning 2019 into a prime year in every other sense.

TTFN

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running blogs…

Hello, good morning, and happy Thursday.  It’s the last Thursday of the month of November in 2018 (AD or CE).  The biggest holiday month of the year approaches, filling children with joy and their elders with various species of dread, stress, and financial worries.

As revealed last week, on Thanksgiving, I unearthed a digital copy of my old short story, Solitaire.  I have laboured on it since, editing it/rewriting it, and even sharing a copy of it with my employer (and a few coworkers).  It’s short enough that he read it in one evening, and the next day—smiling—he told me that I was fucked in the head.  This is just the sort of reaction I expected and for which I had hoped, and he clearly meant it well, so I was happy.

Because Solitaire is a truly short story (a relative rarity for me), the process of rewriting and editing it is going much more quickly, as a percentage of the work remaining to be done, than it usually would.  I expect it to be ready for publication quite soon.  It certainly won’t be available in time for the beginning of Hanukkah, but it should almost certainly be out before Christmas.  Though, to be fair, it’s not a Christmas-ey story.

For those who might be afraid that Solitaire’s discovery would distract and detract from my ongoing work, I say, “Fear not!” (in the words of the Christmas angel).  I’ve still been hard at work editing and rewriting Penal Colony (a more drawn out process than it is for Solitaire, but just as fun), and above all I’ve been writing steadily on Unanimity.  It’s getting very close to the end, now, which is quite exciting for me.  I think I predicted once, back when I was young and innocent and so many things seemed possible, that I would complete the first draft of Unanimity before the end of the year.  This, I think, was overly optimistic.  However, we’re not going to be much into 2019 before I get there.  Then, it will take much less time to whip it into final, publishable form than it was to write it in the first place.

After that, of course, my short story In the Shade awaits completion, and then the book Neko/Neneko, to which I’m very much looking forward, then perhaps a second edition of Mark Red, with an eye toward then writing the second and third volumes of that series.  And, of course, I’m going to continue to write my short stories as little breaks and diversions, and as I’ve said before, I’ll be putting them together into a collection soon (the ones that haven’t been released in paperback yet).

But it doesn’t end there; don’t get your hopes up!  No, I have other books and short stories and series of books coming down the pike, like the ominous approach of the hosts of Mordor, or Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane Hill.  I’ll tease you with a few tentative titles, which you’ll hopefully be encountering more often in days to come:  Changeling in a Shadow World; The Dark Fairy and the Desperado; a possible recreation of my two lost novels from my younger days, Ends of the Maelstrom and, of course, Vagabond (which I may change to The Vagabond).  I also have thoughts of a horror novel called Entropy, and other books as well.

I hope I’ll be able to get them all written before some global catastrophe takes all such considerations out of our hands.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, and looking forward to posting here, hopefully for your amusement.  Happy Hanukkah next week for those who celebrate it, and a happy time in general for everyone else.

TTFN