You are viewing madwriter

Irrationally Exuberant [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Danny Adams

[ website | Bio of a Silver Fox ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Sagas I Can't Write Novels About (With Gratuitous Writing Cat Picture) [Mar. 12th, 2014|09:36 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |One Step Forward Land]
[Current Mood |Mentally Pacing]
[Current Music |"Seven Seas" by Echo and the Bunnymen]

I made what appeared to be progress today on the two fronts of my ongoing personal sagas: The house loan and the deathly ill car.

I was awakened this morning (at what is a normal hour to decent folks, but not necessarily those of us who work late) by The Bank's insurance division wanting to ask some questions about The House for purposes of homeowner's insurance. I presume this is a sign that I have not been summarily rejected despite my egregious lone late payment out of six credit references, but I couldn't give them an answer when they asked if I knew my closing date. So they went to call the loan officer, who turned out to be out for the day, with the message to call me if she could tell me anything beyond "in process". But I've gotten kinda used to waiting. Admittedly the warm weather makes it a lot easier and me more cheerful.

I also finally gave up on hearing back from the mechanic who told me he'd come get my car out of the library parking lot (where it had been sitting since the end of February--bless the campus police for not giving me grief about it loitering there so long) by last Friday. I left a message on his voice mail last Thursday afternoon to no avail. My father-in-law recommended both a mechanic and a tow truck to chauffeur my car to the mechanic. I managed to knock out some writing between the morning bank call and the afternoon tow. I know it's off to be least this is my fervent hope...but there's still something heartbreaking about seeing your car disappear into the distance at the rear of a tow truck.

People have wondered from time to time over the years how I manage to get any writing done when I've got so many things (these and others I don't talk about because while they impact me, they're not my stuff to tell) going on around, beside, and through me. I can only answer that my alternative in such situations would be a much higher likelihood of a marginal to middlin' breakdown. I'm not sure how I could completely stop writing altogether during such times.


New Words: 1700 on the epilogue of Copper Heart. This puts me about half or two-thirds of the way through the second of the three scenes. This scene chronicles the historically vicious Blizzard of 1886-87 that smashed the cattle industry and swerved the direction of the American West. (It's also where I'm writing about something that James A. Michener wrote about before me, in Centennial, so I have to try extra hard to tamp down the inferiority complex.)

Total Words: 165,300.

Reason For Stopping: Going to meet the tow truck.

Book Year: 1886.

Mammalian Assistance: None, although Vegas jumped up on his box pile just long enough for me to take a picture to make all of you good people think he was helping me. Don't be fooled.


Exercise: None to speak of.

Stimulants: Turkey Hill chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Today's Opening Passage: The signs were hidden so well, buried in the thickening bark of trees and fur of animals, they would be easy to miss if you did not think to look. They waited unnoticed by most, by people who had suffered through the hottest and driest summer in recent memory while enjoying years of mild winters, who would not want to see what was coming even if they could. Their blindness would soon be equaled by an unapproachable whiteness no man would be able to see through.

Darling Du Jour: Roberto felt its coming first as a restlessness. An odd discomfort amid spring days already reaching past one hundred degrees underneath a miserly sky. He prayed Catholic prayers and sang O’odham songs, and while the sense of unease intensified there were few hints at the source. As Geronimo rampaged across Arizona and Roberto joined Kate and the cowmen guarding cattle and especially Silverstar’s brood, Roberto turned inward as much as looking out for enemies, walking the Himdag and pleading to know what disaster was approaching them.

The subtle but cunningly laid answers were given by all of those beings who would suffer alongside the people. The cattle and other animals whose coats were growing extra thick for the coming winter. The burrowing snakes and rodents who dug deeper than Roberto had ever seen before. The cottonwood trees thickening their bark. The sparrows and towhees, warblers and canyon wrens who usually lived in Arizona during the winter continuing south without stopping.

Roberto would gaze at the sky as he patrolled the ranch or hunted stray cows; it was clear innocence, not revealing its plans, but everything else betrayed it.

Non-Research / Review Books In Progress: The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen / time_shark; The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.

Link3 comments|Leave a comment

Inspiration In Stone [Mar. 11th, 2014|09:28 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |Still One Step Removed Land]
[Current Mood |Impatient]
[Current Music |The theme to "Wyatt Earp"]

I haven't posted many pictures of my writing space before...maybe one or two over the years. But I took a couple of shots today as part of my (potential) post-move reconstruction of shelves, and figured I'd post them here.

These are the changeable spaces: The first picture is a shelf by my Writing Computer that has items related to whatever I'm writing, the second is the top of my computer monitor, which has a mix of transitional and more-or-less permanent items.

All of these items came from Arizona, except two:
The laser-cut Kokopelli was purchased locally, and the pottery sherds are from private land in New Mexico.

The stone-looking pieces lining the front of my monitor are half of a set of Cienega phase artifacts
a friend from Arizona sent me. The other half are lined up at the head of my keyboard.

At any rate, I'm one-third of the way through the epilogue of Copper Heart as of today, and once the book is done, all of my Arizona items will be packed up. As to where they'll go if I get a new place, I'll cross that threshold when I come to it.


New Words: 2400 (1300 / 1200 ). The death of someone who's been a character since early in Arizona Book 2 (aka Wolves in the Desert) gives Eva an answer to so many Hispanic families being displaced from their farms and ranches by Anglos.

Total Words: 163,600.

Reason For Stopping: Groggy yesterday from lack of sleep and finally took a nap / Finished the scene and needed to get ready for work.

Book Year: 1886.

Mammalian Assistance: None. All the cats were gathered around the open windows letting in the lovely 70-plus degree day.

Exercise: None to speak of.

Stimulants: None.

Today's Opening Passage(s):

Yesterday: It seemed that half of the Pimeria Alta—or at least half of the Hispanics in the land—were turning out for the funeral. This did not surprise Eva. The one they came to pay their respects to, to pray for her soul's quick release from Purgatory, had been so well known and loved in the land for so long, and on both sides of the border, she might as well have been a legend.

The woman herself would have laughed at that and called those people fools who called her legend. Though secretly she would have chuckled fondly.

Mostly, though, she considered dying an inconvenience, an interruption to getting work done.

Today: But when they were gathered, these stones ranging from cobbles to ones Eva could barely carry with two hands, with enough piled to build a six foot-high nicho, she could only stare at them blankly. What was she supposed to do next? She called herself a fool for thinking the knowledge might magically appear inside her head. Feeling exhausted and defeated, she went to bed for the night, expecting nothing more the next day than what she expected from every other ordinary day.

Darling Du Jour: Nothing springs out at me. Or maybe I'm just tired.

Non-Research / Review Books In Progress: The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen / time_shark; The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.
Link2 comments|Leave a comment

Admiring My 13-Year-Old Self [Mar. 9th, 2014|08:59 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |Thirty Years Later Land]
[Current Mood |Wistful]
[Current Music |The theme to the original "Battlestar Galactica"]

The one upside to trying to get everything organized and packed for a move (or at least, when you're hoping to move but don't know if you will or not) is the stuff you run across that you haven't seen for ages. Two of the items I ran across yesterday were a couple of journals I kept in 1984, I think as school assignments. The first one opens on January 18, 1984, with a line filled with fate I didn't recognize at the time: "Today I started my story that I based on 'Centennial'".

In January of '84 I'd just been writing for a few months, and the book I'm referring to in that line - I ended up naming it The Trek West, my grandmother's suggestion - was only the second book I'd ever started, and my first historical novel. I'd go on to write something like 500 pages by hand on loose-leaf paper, covering over two centuries of history in the Midwest.

But here's the thing: I was so determined, and so fascinated by Centennial (the miniseries based on James Michener's book - I wouldn't read the novel till that summer), and I was such an eager writer that I started working on The Trek West even before the miniseries was finished. Five days later, according to my journal, I'd written 113 pages, totaling nine chapters. By the time May rolled around and I started my second journal, I'd reached the 1930s and the Dust Bowl.

Now here's the thing. I wasn't exactly a meticulous researcher (though I thought I was at the time). I did a lot of my writing at the expense of school work - not only writing instead of studying and doing homework, but on a few occasions I even wrote during classes. I ended up going to summer school that year so I could move onto high school - and while I passed my summer school class, I spent all of my free time each school day in the library doing research for The Trek West.

And yet, all that said...dang.

Thirty years later, I'm a much better writer (thank Heavens), I'm more meticulous and calculated about the writing and the research, and obviously I still love what I'm doing. I do lean towards being obsessively persistent, especially when it comes to submitting my work to magazines and other publishers. I certainly wouldn't flunk out of school or lose a job or some such thing for writing nowadays.

But when I look back at those entries and the ferocity I attacked writing with when I was thirteen (and for years afterwards), I have to admit that I do miss feeling that way...just a little bit. Maybe more.

So in honor of 13-year-old me, I spent part of the rest of the day writing, determined that I wouldn't stop until I'd finished the final chapter of Copper Heart. I still have the epilogue yet to write, but I did plow on through to the end of "The Renegades". And I could hear my younger self asking me from across that time gulf, "See? That wasn't so hard, was it?"


New Words: 2250 on chapter 4 ("The Renegades, 1885") of Copper Heart. Geronimo at last surrenders and is shipped off to Florida forever; Riley decides what he does not want to do with the rest of his life.

Total Words: 161,100.

Book Year: 1886.

Reason For Stopping: See above.

Mammalian Assistance: Vegas the Writing Assistant was up on the box pile and all ready to guard it until I opened the kitchen window to the unseasonably warm Outside. Then he was all about guarding the window, primarily from the other cats.

Exercise: Walked around the neighborhood and campus with Laurie and the dogs.

Stimulants: Peach cider.

Today's Opening Passage: That night Goyakla sat by a fire with his four best warriors before him. Three of them were also members of his family and they looked at him expectantly, hoping he would say what they did not have the courage to speak first themselves. The fourth was Lozen, her face a determined, stony mask.

Darling Du Jour: I like the last few paragraphs (which came to me right before I got to them), but I'm not going to post them here because they're kinda spoilery.

Submissions Sent Out In February: 13 to magazines, 6 to agents.

Total Submissions Out Right Now: 12 to magazines, 8 to agents, 2 to publishers.

Writing-Related Sacrifice: I'm not just piling stuff together for packing, but also going through numerous items that suffered mild to major mildew damage in our basement. One of these items was a binder with several hundred pages of printouts that comprised my primary research notebook when I wrote The Course of Heaven back in 2002-04 - the novel that got me back into serious, regular writing. I kept a few dozen pages of things I particularly liked or had information that might be hard to find again...I'll figure out what to do with the mildew smell later. But the rest, including the binder, went into the trash.

Other Writing-Related Stuff: Looking over the galley of a short story that was immensely fun and personally gratifying to write. It's for an anthology which I'll talk about when I'm given the OK to do so.

Non-Research / Review Books In Progress: The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen / time_shark; The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.
Link2 comments|Leave a comment

In An Effort To Get Things Done [Mar. 5th, 2014|09:47 am]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |So Close And Yet So Far Away]
[Current Mood |Harried]
[Current Music |"Another White Dash" by Butterfly Boucher]

Not much to post about here lately, at least not much I want to - house loan is still up bouncing in the air and mocking me from above, car is still dead and waiting for the mechanic to be able to get to it - and a myriad of great and sundry things have otherwise been commandeering my attention from writing both here, on the novel, and elsewhere. As it is, the Progress Report I'm posting below is four days old - I've only been averaging writing one or two days a week, though at least the word counts are higher to make up for it when I do get to banging away at the keyboard. Volcanic eruptions and all that.

And by the way, if you didn't see this in the numerous other places I posted it, Lest Camelot Fall is the current giveaway on the awesome, fun, and informative English Historical Fiction Authors website. You can enter it by posting a comment with your e-mail address here.

And just because, here is a picture of Tucker the Big Dog rocking out to our recent blizzard.



New Words: 3900 on chapter 4 ("The Renegades, 1885") of Copper Heart. Geronimo decides to do his (final) final surrender.

Total Words: 158850. "Yes, the danger must be growing / For the rowers keep on rowing / And they're certainly not showing / Any signs that they are slowing . . . "

Reason For Stopping: The Writing Room is still only heated passively by whatever heat bleeds in from other rooms, so I was kinda frozen.

Book Year: 1886.

Mammalian Assistance: Hayes the Baby Cat (splayed across lap, chest, and shoulder) wanted to guard me from...pretty much anything that wasn't her.

Exercise: Walked around the neighborhood with Laurie and the dogs.

Stimulants: Peach cider.

Today's Opening Passage: Gus was back in the desert, back in Mexico…but this time he felt stronger and more vital than before. Than ever before. It was as if he drew his strength and sustenance from the sun and the wind themselves, as he, Lieutenant Gatewood, and only a handful of others rode alone through the wastes to convince Geronimo to surrender one final time.

Darling Du Jour: There was the passing thought in the back of his mind that he was using up everything he had, all the rest of the years of his life, pushing forward with this effort. That once Geronimo was caught and shipped off to prison in Florida, Gus’ last breath would leave him and he would drop dead where he stood. It didn’t matter. He knew this was exactly where he was meant to be, and that he must see this through, for the span of his life had wholly been urging him to this last ride into Mexico and back.

Non-Research / Review Books In Progress: The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen / time_shark; The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.
Link9 comments|Leave a comment

Today's Out-Of-Context Quote [Feb. 27th, 2014|09:35 pm]
[Current Location |A Sidestep From Where I Want To Be]
[Current Mood |aggravatedaggravated]
[Current Music |"In This Generation" by the Monkees]

Me, to Laurie: "Hey, you drank some of the toilet cleaner!"

Laurie: "I was thirstier than the toilet."
LinkLeave a comment

The (Final) Final Surrender [Feb. 19th, 2014|10:22 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |Someplace Less Windy]
[Current Mood |determineddetermined]
[Current Music |Billy Joel]

This week's quasi-Out-of-Context Quote:

Laurie to the World in General: "Ladies, if you don't help your husbands shovel snow, you won't have the muscle mass to fight when the Zombie Apocalypse comes!"


New Words: 1550 on chapter 4 ("The Renegades, 1885") of Copper Heart. A year after his so-called "Final Surrender", and after seeing some signs that included an accidental leaving from some other characters in the book, Geronimo realizes that he almost certainly have no choice but to give up to the American soldiers once and for all. From here all that's left is Geronimo's surrender, which will finish off the chapter, and then a two- or possibly three-scene epilogue.

Total Words: 155,100. I actually hit and whizzed past the 150K mark back on February 5th (progress I don't think I reported here).

Reason For Stopping: End of scene, and some post-blizzard work to do.

Book Year: 1886.

Mammalian Assistance: Vegas came in briefly to guard his box pile, but doesn't much care for the new box on top. I've switched it for a box he does like sprawling on, so we'll see what happens in our next installment of Danny The Cat Slave.

Exercise: Shoveling driveway snow; a round trip walk to campus.

Stimulants: Peach cider made in one of my old, brief abodes (Frederick, Maryland).

Today's Opening Passage: When Goyakla rode ahead alone as they made for their mountains strongholds, his companions let him. When he took less joy in raids and killing White Eyes and Mexicans, they said nothing. They pretended not to notice when he occasionally glanced to his side where there was no one, and when he sat before a fire facing a companion no longer there.

Darling Du Jour: He asked his Power for a vision of this, but no vision came. Perhaps this was the wrong place. Perhaps he should be alone. He climbed out of the arroyo where they were hiding up a rocky, jagged hillside, where high above him he spotted a mountain goat perched on a ledge as certainly as if it was part of the rock.

It was a good thing to see. Such a sight once before, just outside the cave with the powerful drawings, convinced him that the Dineh were like that goat. Always part of the land and going places no White Eyes could ever reach. Like that goat, it looked down upon everything below knowing that in such a high place nothing could reach it.

Goyakla didn't see the eagle until it grabbed its prey.

It swept down swiftly and with no warning but did not carry away the goat. Instead it sent the goat tumbling off its perch. The eagle feasted on the broken corpse.

Every muscle in Goyakla’s body seized. He had seen the eagle many times before — not in visions, but as a symbol representing America on everything the soldiers carried. Making himself walk back to the camp was more effort than planting barley on the reservation.

Lest Camelot Fall stuff: So far I've gotten five yeses from book reviewers willing to look at Camelot (though no guarantee they'll review it), one interview by another author / book blogger (already done but not yet posted), one giveaway contest (by fellow Musa author Liz DeJesus), and three spotlights (one of which has already appeared).

Non-Research / Review Books In Progress: The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen / time_shark; The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell.
LinkLeave a comment

Darling, I Do Know Why I Go To Extremes [Feb. 18th, 2014|07:51 pm]
[Current Location |Online and with cell phone in pocket...for now]
[Current Mood |mellowmellow]
[Current Music |The theme to "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"]

Multitasking has been coming under a lot of fire lately.

Mother Jones, for instance, recently posted an article about how you can improve your brain by not multitasking. Uberfacts had a line of tidbits last week declaring how much better you perform without it, including something along the lines of how your brain gets three times more dampened by multitasking than smoking marijuana. Numerous studies have demonstrated that prodigies and those we call geniuses tend to be focused hard on their discipline without interruption for X amount of time a day (though saving the rest for Everything Else, including and especially recreation).

And I have to admit that when it comes to making my writing space at home, I go to extremes. "Stop being an internet junkie" says Maria Konnikova in the Mother Jones article. I don't have an Internet connection at home specifically because it's too easy for me to play with a multitude of flickering distractions. Nor do I have cable, satellite, or digital TV; my TV watching is usually limited to DVD and VHS. I only answer the phone if it's someone who knows only to call me when I'm writing if it's important, or someone I asked to call me back as soon as possible.

But you know what? If you're a writer - and I suspect this is true for any creative pursuit - you're multitasking anyway, whether you want to or not, whether you mean to or not.

Because your brain is always firing away. Plotting, planning, and otherwise chasing after what you're writing or want to write. This is often regardless of what you may personally choose for yourself at any given moment. For example, I almost never get bored, because the back of my brain is always plotting out a story arc, or trying out dialogue, or writing a descriptive passage, or figuring out a believable escalation of conflict. This can be inconvenient when I'm trying to do other things, especially those requiring a lot of mental attention, sure. But I wouldn't have it any other way, because by the time I sit down at the keyboard for the day's writing work, I usually know what I'm going to write.

I haven't read a book strictly for pleasure since I was twelve years old. Everything I read I study. I do the same thing when watching a movie or TV show, and in those cases I also try to figure out the visual setting, what the director's doing, and so on.

When I was writing Lest Camelot Fall my library boss, Cy Dillon, gave me the go-ahead to learn and practice our research databases by researching the novel. (He got a shout-out in the acknowledgements for that.)

When people ask me where I get my story ideas and I tell them Everywhere, I really mean that. As oblivious as I can be in other ways, I always try to keep my eyes and ears open to sponge in anything I might stumble across. An overheard sentence fragment from a nearby conversation during an academic meeting once sparked a poem. Another came from a NASA news article I ran across. An oddly-framed photograph became a piece of a short story, while a famous commercial sparked the opening of another. My first professionally-published poem was inspired by the top of a mountain next to campus catching on fire.

All of that absorbing? When you get right down to it, it's nothing more than multitasking.

My point is, I'm not sure how you can be a writer if you don't multitask at least to some extent - just not in the way it's traditionally defined. (When I was in 2nd grade it was called "daydreaming". The only difference now is that I've learned to put it to more productive use.) And I consider it absolutely necessary.

I'll go one step farther. I've heard a lot of people ask "How do I know if I'm meant to be a writer?" I'll put this forward as a test: If you study the books you read instead of just reading them...if you can't help but mentally turn a snatch of conversation or a quirky news article into a story or poem idea...if you're always turning ideas over in your head and can't let them go (or they won't let you go)...

...Then yeah, I'd say that's a pretty strong indicator. So turn off the TV, switch off the network connection, set aside your phone, and ask yourself "What am I waiting for?"
Link6 comments|Leave a comment

Efficient Blizzards [Feb. 14th, 2014|05:33 pm]
[Current Location |The Cone of Silence]
[Current Mood |mischievousmischievous]
[Current Music |The Austin Power theme]

I haven't posted one of these for a long time, so . . .


by S. Fox, Vivarium Press
"Weathering the ups and downs of the news business"

Ever since branching out into the climate manipulation market by purchasing the government's weather-controlling HAARP facility in Alaska last year, the Bruges, Belgium-based corporation Arztubel has been determined to dominate the Earth's weather patterns more cheaply and efficiently than the federal government could manage. Now, with the recent blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow in many places in the Eastern U.S. all the way south to Georgia, the company believes it has hit that milestone.

According to Doug Powers, spokesman for Arztubel's American subsidiaries, the science of global climate manipulation had been severely repressed by government bureaucracy and regulations.

"Some of those standards were simply ridiculous," Powers explains. "No more than one thousand artificially generated tornadoes in the Continental United States per year, with no more than one hundred per state in any given year, except Texas, which signed a waiver in exchange for some special favors in federal oil leases on national parkland. Sooner or later that barrier becomes too restrictive for solid R&D. By buying HAARP and privatizing it, and locating our flagship headquarters overseas, we're able to work around much of that government interference."

The HAARP Research Station, built near Gakona, Alaska in 1993, contains hundreds of tower units and elements broadcasting high frequency band transmissions. Some of their uses include researching weather, facilitating experimentation in radio and microwave broadcasting, heating the ionosphere until it turns into floating plasma, rearranging and relocating storms, planting subliminal messages directly into human brains, blowing up enemy fighter jets impinging U.S. airspace, and retrieving stray decades-old radio and TV signals from outer space to prevent them from being picked up by potentially hostile aliens or copyright pirates.

The several months that HAARP was shut down starting in May 2013 due to the ownership transition, while responsible for the sharp drop in the number of hurricanes striking the U.S., proved costly to Arztubel in both money and research time.

"There's was a lot of pressure from the top down to get some quick results," Powers admits, "but we still were committed to ensuring that our work was done right, in accordance with all current Weather Domination Best Practices. When you need a hurricane to come out of the Gulf Coast and hit Florida, for instance, it's very embarrassing to have it swing around instead to the Atlantic and slam into, say, North Carolina. People have been fired for less, such as when an accidental transmission from the Filled Developmental Prototype caused a sinkhole to swallow the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky recently. Our CEO owns three classic Corvettes and I can tell you that was a bad time, and we didn't want a repeat of that sort of incident. We had to learn to work fast yet continually meet and exceed our weekly meteorological inspections."

Powers was proud to say that they did exceed all of Arztubel's expectations, particularly in the two February blizzards that stretched part of the way into the Deep South. "The CEO himself bought a round of drinks for everyone in the Alaska offices the moment he started hearing weathermen say that the first storm 'came out of nowhere'. That's the kind of surprise that the U.S. military gives preferential treatment to in weather weapon research, and we hit that target several months ahead of schedule."

Then to follow up that snowstorm with another, Powers says, "Well, we weren't certain we could do it, but everyone was really jazzed after the success of the first storm, and HQ promised bonuses if we could pull it off again. So what can I say? The folks in the Alaskan offices did amazing work. That kind of result would have been impossible under the old federal intervention-happy HAARP. Tuesday's blizzard demonstrates the success of privatizing weather domination." Powers' eyes narrow. "That's not luck, that's commitment. We're thinking about making that our company motto."

Their work has been successful enough that they've been subcontracting some of their work to other countries. "The floods that are inundating large swaths of Britain are from a startup that's working out some kinks, but we have faith that they'll get things right by contract-signing time," Powers says. "And as far as the earthquakes that continue to happen near Fukushima are concerned, we say to the Japanese people: Please just be patient."

Powers acknowledges that HAARP has many critics, particularly those who believe that humans shouldn't be messing with the Earth's weather patterns. How does Arztubel feel about its detractors?

"Humanity is all about making innovations," Powers responds. "Granted there is a 1-in-7 chance of HAARP permanently savaging the planet's atmosphere and making Earth uninhabitable for any more advanced form of life than large multicellular bacteria, according to our consultants. But any business comes with risks."

Is there anything HAARP does that causes Powers to lose sleep?

"Not really," he answers confidently. "Although during the six months we were shut down last year, a lot of old 1950s TV broadcasts slipped through our net on their way to the stars." His voice lowers with what could be genuine regret. "I know that if any enemy alien civilizations invade Earth and annihilate humanity because they didn't like some Sid Caesar broadcast, I might never forgive myself."

The author would like to thank the U.S. Air Force for their generous cooperation in allowing this story, even if they did make him endure sixteen hours in radiological detox before allowing it to go to press.

Link1 comment|Leave a comment

The Finer Details In Life [Feb. 9th, 2014|07:51 pm]
[Current Location |Nowhere near cake]
[Current Mood |quixoticquixotic]
[Current Music |"Short Skirt / Long Jacket" by Cake]

There are still some things about wearing glasses that I'm getting used to even after sixteen months (which followed twenty-five years of wearing contacts, though), especially now that my scratch-resistant lenses are full of scratches. But I'm still grooving on the fact that my vision with glasses is better than contacts. Stargazing has certainly gotten a lot more interesting--a couple of weeks ago, for example, I finally got to see the Orion Nebula for the first time with my naked eye, color included.

And yesterday I saw my first "macro-snowflake". That's my word for a flake that's so big you can see its crystalline features without magnification. This one was large enough, in fact, that I could see some details when it drifted onto Tucker the Big Dog's black back as he waited to go back inside our house. Crouching down beside him (while he wondered what I was up to) I could easily make out that it was a six-pointed star that repeated the star pattern down to the center. Of course it disappeared the instant we walked inside, but it was nice while it lasted.

I can also better see the hawk whose made our neighborhood its home now, including picking her out in the treetops of the woods behind our house and other places she goes hunting.

More than just neat things to look at, though, they're also good metaphorical reminders. I tend to be a lot busier than usual right now, between trying to promote Lest Camelot Fall, finishing Copper Heart, trying to buy a house, packing four thousand books, and still awaiting word on the potential Secret Project. I tend to miss a lot of small details anyway, and when I'm this wrapped up in Stuff being oblivious to them could get downright deleterious. And I don't want to get so wrapped up in Everything I'm Doing Right Now that I look up and suddenly it's next year. That's happened to me a few too many times.

Right now slowing down isn't that much of an option. But I think if I'm a little more observant, I won't necessarily need to slow down for the time being. I just need to pick my eyes up while I'm chugging away to make sure I don't miss any nebulae, snowflakes, or hawks. Even if I have to keep going going going, I can keep from being gone. Noticing all those finer details will make the going a lot easier--not to mention more worthwhile. And somewhere I have a collection of loupes and magnifying glasses . . .
Link2 comments|Leave a comment

In Which I Inadvertently Become A Home-Wrecker [Feb. 5th, 2014|08:34 pm]
[Current Location |Thinking Of (Bird) House-Buying Land]
[Current Mood |Avine-Dejected]
[Current Music |"You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" ala Thurl Ravenscroft]

During one of my several passes through The House this past Friday, checking out things inside and out sometimes literally by the square inch, I discovered that a storm window in the master bedroom had been left open. Inside the window was what I assumed to be the remains of an abandoned nest; it was turned on its side and in a couple of pieces. I tossed the nest out and closed the window.

A little while later I was back at the window, gazing out over the woods while taking a break from my various inspections, when two little brown wrens fluttered up to where the nest had been, darted their heads back and forth looking over the empty space, then flew off.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the very next time I was at the window later that evening they came back to look over the empty space again.

I honestly thought about retrieving the nest (now in more than two pieces) where it lay on the ground below the window, re-opening the storm window, and putting it back. I didn't, but I think when I get the chance I just may buy a birdhouse and surreptitiously hang it from the nearest tree.
Link2 comments|Leave a comment

[ viewing | 10 entries back ]
[ go | earlier/later ]