Down and Out… and slightly bitter, I guess…

I’ve been sick the past week, spending much more time in the bathroom than I would like. More, in fact, than working on any of the multiple writing-related projects I have going.

I’ve also had at least half a dozen things I’d like to have blogged about–movies, books, etc–but have just been “down and out” with being sick.

And just as I’d like to start back on writing my second Identity Crisis novel, I’m volunteering to help copy edit an anthology, which I’m greatly looking forward to and see as a great opportunity and experience.  But it’s another time slot–or two, or three–just as the weather’s getting nice, and I’m starting to feel better, and important stuff at work is coming up, and…  I think part of the reason I got sick was I stress myself out too much, spread myself too thin.  I need to start scaling back and prioritizing again.

And one of the first things to get cut on the list of priorities is blogging.

Some people–damned if I’ll ever understand how–actually make a living blogging.  What a world we live in, eh?  If I could get paid to sit here and shoot out my opinions into the Ether everyday…  Just can’t imagine that as possible.

And even though in this new cyber-centered world we live in, they say “building a platform” is so darned important to having a writing career.  That means being online, having a presence, cyber-socializing, blogging about whatever, etc.

But I say, if I am doing that, then I’m not writing anything.  And I don’t want to be a virtual social butterfly, I want to be a writer.  Novels, novellas, shorties, etc.  You ask me, you don’t get to be a writer by talking about the one book you’ve written.  You get there by writing more books.

Anyway, maybe someday I’ll get around to talking about that movie I saw or that book I read, but for now, that’s just noise.  I have so much more important stuff to do.  And the internet is jam-packed other people that can do that all day long.  But not all of them can write books or stories.  And only I can write my books and stories.  And only I can take care of my family, and take care of my specific responsibilities at home and at work.  So that’s my priority.

And now I have to go meet my son at school for an after-school club.  Only I can do that for him, and it sure as hell is more important than blogging about some movie so I can “build a platform.”




Still Chasing My Tail

It’s nearly 4am.  I’ve been working on writing stuff for about 4 hours and I still feel like I haven’t accomplished anything!

I keep reworking or correcting crap that should have been put to sleep long ago.  Even when I have an increasing amount of new, better projects I could be working on.

I make these lists.  And I even remake my lists over and over again!  ‘Cuz every day, there’s a new idea, a new take on priorities, new (and old) projects that have to be reshuffled through.

It never ends.  

When you have to do it all yourself, and only in your spare time–like at 4am on your night off–it just never ends.  New things crop up before you can get the last 20 finished.

Right now, as I write this, I am killing time waiting for Create Space to upload the paperback version of a story years old.  And not because I expect anyone to buy a short story in paperback, but because this is like version 3.67 or something and I have to correct the previous paperback version so it’s consistent…  Okay, it’s a long terrible excuse, but let’s just say that I can never seem to escape from past tangles to get a good forward momentum.

To give you further idea of how backward I am, I am currently listening to a Don Henley *CD* that I bought in 1999.   Yeah!

So my list…  I actually did kind of mark a couple things off of it, at least partially.  I started a few things that I now have to revisit to be sure they take and get done by other (generally cybernetic) parties.

Two major things I wanted to work on:

  1. Revising Masks so I can get the final draft uploaded in time for the release date.
  2. Working on a Patreon account in the vain hope that some folks out there will feel artsy-generous enough to flip some coin to fund these projects.  I’ve actually been thinking of this since before the New Year!  That tells you about my tail-chasing, own-butt-sniffing circular motion that gains little ground.  (And about how I’m not making that a priority because I just can’t believe people do that kind of thing.  But apparently they do.)

But I didn’t do either of those things tonight.

Also need to fix this website.  The new theme isn’t compatible with my portfolios that feature my fictional universes.  (You may have noticed…)  The text and images are askew.  Oh well, not tonight.

Also should have gone to the gym at like midnight.  But who has the motivation to do that at midnight??!!

I did write the beginnings (about 600 words) of  a new space pirate story, which is now a NEW item on my long list.  And my damn list ain’t getting any shorter as it is.  Just what I need…

Okay, got that paperback sent in for processing.  Time for bed!


(Sorry, no picture to go on this post.  Couldn’t find a good shot of a dog sniffing its own butt…)

The Pulp Revolution

conanSounds cool, doesn’t it?

I am still a novice and outsider to the greater “neo pulp movement,” and likely will remain that way, but I like the idea of it.  Bringing back the ideals of storytelling embodied in the adventure stories of the ’30s and ’40s and beyond.  (That’s where superhero roots started, too, ya know—in the pulps!)

I managed to accidentally trip over some of the modern pulp revolutionists recently, and wish I had more time to explore and advocate for this revival.

But I don’t, really.

I wish I had more writing and reading time to contribute to the conversations and submit stories to some of the new magazines that have grown up to emulate those of the past.

But, unfortunately, I just don’t.  My dance card is pretty full just fulfilling all my own current publishing dreams.  I’ve started quite a few series and have plenty more to start, after I make some progress on the ones I’ve already initiated.

But I think my stuff is pretty “pulpy.”  I’ve actually had a couple of stories published by some of these new young revolutionaries already.  And I’ve found a few more opportunities.  (I just don’t think I can fit it into my writing schedule to try and contribute.)

On kind of a down side, there’s also the faint air of politics to some of talk. I guess that goes with the term “revolution,” right?  And I’m not quite ready to throw my hat into any political rings when it comes to literature and writing/reading tastes.  I figure there’s a flavor out there for everybody, and it’s no ones business what you like.  I’m not here to say one style is better than another.  I know my tastes, and that they often differ from what the mainstream spec fic giants are pushing.  So I certainly sympathize with the underground.  (And hell, it’s always more fun to be part of the underground than the establishment regime anyway, right?)  But I’m not sure I’m ready to burn any citadels to the ground.

I think I’d be more likely to advocate for building your own fortresses, flying your own colors, and allowing the masses (readers) to make up their own minds.  Filter over (or flock to) your banners and leave the regime to figure out for themselves that maybe the aristocracy has been too exclusive all this time.

Anyone confused so far by what I’m talking about?  Not sure you follow?

I am being pretty vague.  Rather noncommittal.  And I’m doing so on purpose.

To be a bit more clear, some of the topics of discussion might be about the major SF/F magazines’ trend for decades toward publishing fluffy literary stories rather than the exciting sci-fi stuff we go to the movies for.  And for bending so far toward, shall we say, “political correctness” as to completely alienate the “evil majority.”  (Very much like everything else in America these days.)  This has also been a hot topic during science fiction award season, and continues to be.  I don’t know all the politics—nor do I want to—but I remember reading some articles last year about how nasty some of it’s been getting when it comes to the Hugo and Nebula awards.

And again, that’s one reason I’m not getting too specific or taking up a pitchfork myself right now.  Because I’d rather advocate for a pulp revival, versus a revolution, and let readers make their own choices.  And hell, you don’t even have to pick one side or the other!  You can read both, appreciate both, depending on your mood.  Personally, I do like some of the literary stuff, but I certainly don’t think it should be the dominant art form that excludes more exciting fiction.  Or that there should even be a dominant art form.  And I don’t think most sci-fi/fantasy fans do either.

So if I’m not jumping on board one way or the other, what’s the point of me typing all this out?  Why should you, the reader of this post, give a shit about this noncommittal rambling?

Well, I just wanted to say something about it, that’s all.  ‘Cuz it’s there.  And I like it, mostly.  And because I wanted to raise awareness and let you, the reader, decide what you like.  Who you want to support.  What books, magazines, blogs, and podcasts you want to frequent and even chip your hard-earned dollars toward supporting (simply by purchasing and reading—and enjoying!—their stuff).

So, if you’re interested, here’s a few places you might go.  Some are forums and blogs, some are sources of reading material, and I see a few neo pulp mags open for submissions.  (If I get the time, maybe I can even submit something.  In some of these cases, I already have!)  This is by no means a long list, it’s just a few leads I have found very recently.  Heck, if you have more, feel free to post them in a comment!

So there you go, a small sample for your perusal.

Now it’s 9am, I’ve been up since 4pm yesterday, and I need to get my ass to bed so I can go back to work again tonight! (And I’ll blame that, too, for why this post is vague and unreadable.)

Good night!


Changes of Plan and Playing Catch-Up in the New Year

Is it APRIL already???!

It’s about to be.  So does anyone else feel behind?!

I haven’t even done my taxes yet!  Was going to do them here tonight but…  All the paperwork is in the closet, and my wife’s in there sleeping, so…  Good excuse to wait another day.

I haven’t been at the blog much lately, as you might have noticed.  Don’t feel like I’m getting much of anything done lately.  But I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Part of it is the merciless work schedule.  I’m on nights now, which means my sleep schedule is all messed up and, therefore, so is everything else in life.  I did just take leave, but that ended up being an international trip to say goodbye to my grandmother (RIP, Granny Goodwitch), so not a vacation in the least.  And I thought I’d have my next book published by now, but I still have to revise the last story in it, get it to Jennifer (my copy editor), and then get the whole thing published.  So that’s taking longer than I expected.

Naturally, I always feel behind on my writing schedule.  I always set ambitious goals at the start of the new year, break into a sprint, and quickly find myself running in mud.  But I’m still on course for publishing over 100,000 words this year, which is pretty darn good considering all the stuff in my life.

triple play tile

So far I’ve gotten my superheroic Silk Spider story and my sci-fi triple play The Scythe of Kronos out.  Both in January, I think.  I just finished writing Masks a week or so ago, which will be the title story, along with two more, to become the first book of the Secret Origins Trilogy, all of which are stories related to my Identity Crisis Universe.

After that the plan is to (finally!) finish writing the sequel to Hungry Gods, which will be called Deus Ex Machina.  (Might even run a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the costs and get the word out.  If you’re a Kickstarter regular, I’d love to hear from you.)

Sometime soon (May, I think?), Knotted Road Press will release Hiding Behind the Cowl, which is a superhero anthology that will include my novella Secret Identities.  (Think The Departed in a superhero/supervillain world.)  It’s a story that’s been coming for a long time.

Then, a couple months later, the rights will come back to me and SIDs will become book two in the Secret Origins series.

After that, I have a few options on the table.  Ultimately, I still have 30+ options already in mind, but as time-and-half military and family man, I don’t get much time in the chair for writing.  But things I’m considering: Green-Eyed Monster, a collection of odds and ends that are pretty much ready and waiting for a quick revision; Black-Out (working title), which would likely be full novel length and complete the Secret Origins Trilogy; and Twilight of the Gods, a big project I started last year, which will be either two or three books long and basically be a prequel storyline to Hungry Gods.  It’ll be more serious a superhero story (partially due to the fact that Spitball isn’t in it…).

And, of course, I have a crap ton of other things I’d like to be working on, but…  one thing at a time.

Well, I’m not getting any of them done while blogging, so…!

(And that’s why you don’t see me blogging or on social media much.  ‘Cuz if I’m goofing around with that, I’m not getting my 30+ books written!)


Trump and 1984

eyeI can’t believe it!

Two or three weeks ago I started reading 1984 again, which I read 20+ years ago in high school and have been meaning to read again for years.  And as I got through the very first chapter (and am only at chapter 4 now — shows how much reading time I get), that I wanted to blog/tweet about how much 1984 sounded like 2017.  And now it seems i missed the boat!

I just saw on Amazon that 1984 is the #2 ebook right now.  Number 2, out of gazillions!  That’s amazing!

And that theatres are going to play the old movie as a form of protest.  Unbelievable!  Awesome!  And I’m overseas, so I’m going to miss it!

What are some of the similarities, you might ask?  Here’s a few:

The Ministry of Truth is basically in charge of shaping history, media, and public perceptions to match The Party’s politics.

The mantra is (always in all-caps):




There are Thought Police, thought crime, and doublethink.

They’ve always been at war with their current enemy (even though Winston clearly remembers it was the other way around just a few years ago).

And the one that struck me most: the Two-Minute Hate.  Everyone must gather around the telescreen and scream their hatred at images of “the enemy”.

Sounds an awful lot like the state of things now.

1984 or 2017?

And here I thought I was a “clever clogs” discovering this.  And now it’s a big thing!

…That big eye up there, by the way?  It’s mine. 🙂 

Finding Time: The Life Equation and the Three R’s

time-warp“There are not enough hours in the day.  Week.  Year!”

Like all writers (and lots of other people), I am constantly confronted with the fact that there does not seem to be enough time to get anything done.  At least, nothing we want to do.  Everything we must to do we find time for, of course.  But finding time for things like writing… Not always so easy.

So I decided to do some math.  My expectation was that by doing so, I’d reinforce the dismal idea that I don’t have enough time, and thus have plenty of excuses for not getting stuff done.  But, happily, that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Here’s what I did:

work 14 3.5 49
sleep 7 7 49
eat dinner 1 7 7
make dinner 1 3.5 3.5
family time – weekday 1.5 5 7.5
family time – weekend 5 2 10
military extra duties 1 1 1
 Total: 127

A little explanation on these broad generalizations for hours per day times days per week:

  • My work days are about 14 hours long.  I get up at 5:30am and get home at 7:30pm.  (Assuming I’m on day shifts, but it’s about the same on nights, just flip am/pm.)  The shift is supposedly 12 hours, but in reality it works out closer to 13, plus I’m including getting ready, eating breakfast, etc.  Basically, time dedicated on a work day to my work day.  I work, on average, 3.5 days out of 7 per week.  (Maybe 3 on, 4 off; or 5 on, 2 off, whatever.)
  • I probably sleep an average of 6-7 hours a night.  I was generous and said 7.
  • Eating dinner: about an hour.  If I have to also make dinner (and sometimes, even after a 14 hour day, I come home and find it’s up to me to make that happen), another hour.
  • Rough estimates on “family time,” meaning just spending time with my son, wife, etc.
  • Currently, my extra military duty time–meaning time outside of my 14 hour day; meaning, my time off–is actually pretty low.  This is partially because I make the choice to allow my career to suffer so that my family and personal time do not.  (Because you don’t get promoted for being good at your job.  That’s not enough.)  It’s also lower because I no longer have to stand the 24-hour duty day every month, due to recent policy changes at work.  But this hour is also estimated for me being on days right now.  When I’m on night shifts, this goes way up.  (Because everything extra that you have to do, you do when everyone else is at work.  And that’s not at 3am on a Saturday night.)

So this is estimating the general, everyday stuff that must get done.  There are 168 hours in a week (24×7).  As per the chart, then, my “mando-time” (mandatory) is 127 hours per week.  168-127 = 41.  So this leaves 41 hours per week.

That’s where I stopped and thought, “That can’t be right!”  How could I possibly have so much extra time on my hands?  I certainly don’t feel like I have 41 hours of free time every week!

So, because the math didn’t support the pessimistic outlook I had on life, as I had expected it to, I differentiated a bit.  I broke it down to work days and off days.

work day non-work
14 working 1 eating
1 eating 1 making
1 making 4 family
1 family 8 sleeping
7 sleeping 14  TOTAL

That’s a little more accurate for me.  The family time may vary, especially if we take a day trip to go do something.  But, generally speaking:

  • On a work day, I should not try to make myself feel guilty for not getting anything else done.  Assuming I want to sleep, eat dinner, and see my loved ones in the same day, there’s no time for anything else.
  • On a non-working day, I should feel guilty for not getting something productive done!  Generally, if it’s a weekday that I have off and everyone else is at work or school, I have lots of time to myself.  Better make it count!  And even on a weekend, unless we are doing something specific, I can find a few hours to do what I want to do.  (I generally wake up early and leave the house to write, so it’s done and out of the way and nothing else can threaten that allotted time slot.)

Now, to go onto the next step, I shall set myself up for some optimistic expectations.  What are the priorities for making the best use of that time?  For me, it’s the Three R’s, redefined a bit:

  • The first is wRiting.  I literally have more than 30 books in mind right now and come up with new ideas all the time!  And they aren’t going to write themselves!
  • Reading is essential, and I don’t do nearly enough of it.  Again, because of time constraints.  Anything I can’t do everyday is hard to turn into a habit or routine.  And I can’t do anything everyday.  Other than eat, apparently, which leads me to the third R…
  • ‘Rithmatic is the saying, but that’ll be my code word for woRking out; or, more likely, swimming laps.  I get fired from my job if I can’t fit into my uniform, and it seems some evil elves have been gradually replacing mine with smaller and smaller duplicates.  At 40 years of age, overworked, sleep deprived, and having other priorities, its difficult to motivate myself to the gym or pool on a regular basis.  It also doesn’t help that my go-to activity is to sit on my butt even more in front of a computer to tell stories. But if I tell myself that on my days off, I have 3 Rs to accomplish, it’ll make it more likely that I get there.

Of course, this simplified rant doesn’t cover all of life.  There are more things to do, unexpected outcomes, and never enough time, however much you may plan.  I’d like to blog more, too, and not just about what damn book is on sale.  I know that makes me out to be a mercenary bastard, and I hate it.  I have so much more to say!  But… blogging requires a time slot.

And time is that most precious of commodities.  You can’t make more time.  It runs at a constant speed, like sand from the hourglass, and once it’s gone you never get it back.  Money you can make more of.  You can get a second job, but that costs more time.

And that’s the main reason I don’t put in the extra time at work needed to advance my military career.  My son is 6 now and growing older at that same, constant rate.  If I spend his childhood at the office, I might gain more money, but I’ll lose more time.  And he’ll never be 6 again, or 7, 8, 9…  Maybe I get to a nice, fat retirement one day, but I’ll miss my son growing up.  Time is worth more to me than money.  Time lost cannot be bought back, no matter how much money you have.

And speaking of time, I’ve spent enough on this blog post.  Unfortunately, I have to ration out such a valuable resource, and my lunch hour is nearly up.

In conclusion, well…  I expected to conclude that, “There’s just not enough time in the day,” and “This might be making a living, but it’s no way to live!”  And I can still say those things, but to my own surprise I discovered that there is time.  I’m just not making the best use of it.  I can always use more, but if I squander what I have, it’s my own damn fault!

Global Warming Is Like Cancer


I’m generally not an activist or anything, and I usually avoid discussing politics and such with anyone but my wife, so I don’t know why this occurred to me this morning as I walked to work at 0630.  But it did and I liked it, so…  Here it is.

In pondering how so many people are in denial about global warming and climate change, I conjured up this analogy:

Imagine that Global Warming/Climate Change is a cancer diagnosis.

You’ve just been told by a large panel of doctors (because you wanted second and third and beyond opinions on such a dire diagnosis) that you do indeed have cancer.  Cancer that if untreated, will eventually lead to a long, painful end of life.  These doctors who have diagnosed you are among the world’s leading experts.  They are specialists and scientists.  Medical doctors who have treated cancer before and have lots of rational qualifications to back up their professional opinions in this matter.

But then some other folks come along and tell you that you DO NOT have cancer.

A celebrity TV doctor assures you that you don’t have cancer.  He’s never seen your record or performed any diagnostic tests on you, but he’s famous and was nominated for an Emmy once, so he probably knows what he’s talking about.  Right?

There are a tight-knit band of politicians who are certain beyond a doubt that you do not have cancer.  No, they’re not doctors.  Mostly lawyers, millionaire CEOs, folks like that.  But that means they’re smart, right?  And they’ve been elected to public office, which is a big qualifier on expertise of all kinds.  I mean, only the brightest, most honest, most trustworthy folks get to those kinds of authority positions.  And they are certain you don’t have cancer.  In fact, it’s a major leg of their platform (and their fundraising strategies).  They have angry rallies and argue on TV, all pissed off on your behalf, about the ridiculous allegations that you have cancer.  The nerve of some people to spread such evil lies about you!

And then there’s the oil industry.  Billions and billions of dollars worth of adamant denial that you have cancer.  You can’t possibly have cancer!  If you did, someone might think that they contributed, so, obviously, it has to be a vicious lie.

In fact, you don’t need LESS fossil fuels, you need MORE fossil fuels!

They are so convinced that you can’t possibly have cancer, they have a special cancer deterrence treatment for you.  They want you to take Crude Oil Capsules every day.  It’s a new wonder of modern medicine that they (with the help of some of their politician friends) have managed to get pushed through the Food and Drug Administration without all that pesky red tape and safety testing.  You can be the first person to try these miracle pills, made with all-natural crude oil, bubbled out of the good ole U.S. of A. itself.  Nothing more patriotic than that!

Maybe we can even make you a reality TV star!  Make this a big publicity event, follow you around and show how nice these capsules are treating you.  You’ll be rich.  And healthy!  Perfectly healthy!

What a deal!  What a life!

Gee, I wish I were falsely accused of having cancer!

… So now you have a choice.  Your life is on the line.  You may or may not have a deadly disease that will slowly but surely kill you.

Do you: (a) Choose to trust the professionals who have dedicated their lives to studying and understanding the science of this field, 95% or more of whom all agree on the subject; or (b) choose to believe the folks who may be giving you the easier path, the one that doesn’t involve difficult change or bad news, but also do NOT have expertise in this field, but DO have other vested interests (mostly financial) in the outcome.

It’s YOUR life, YOUR future.  And the future of YOUR CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN.

Who do you believe?


And now that I’ve finished that, a similar argument could probably made for common sense gun control.  Substitute “military-grade machine guns specifically designed for killing lots of people” for global warming, “billion-dollar weapons manufacturers and the NRA” in for Big Oil, you can probably keep the exact same batch of politicians where they are…  Yeah, it reads about the same.