Friday, February 14, 2014

Cold and colder

What a winter it's been so far.

I know it might shock a lot of people, but having two full-blown winter storms in the same year is unheard of here in Georgia. Combined with the temperatures...it's no wonder people are calling this a historical winter.

Of course, I've seen the pendulum swing the other way. Back when I was in college, I got to meet people from further south (Florida or the Caribbean) who had never seen snow in their lives. So when it dropped an inch of snow (much lighter than either of these), they were in awe.

I'm sure the people further north in the U.S. are not the least bit impressed, and snow continues to bury places like New York. That's fair. I can only write about what I know, be it in my books or on this blog. Getting anything longer than a power outage for about two hours (which is what the second storm did) is outside my realm of experience.

It's not something I'm in a hurry to correct for. I know the success of writing is dependent on the writer's knowledge, but there are some things that just aren't worth it. I'd list them, but I think most of them would be self-evident anyway.

Well, back to work on writing. Catch you on the flip side.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A (lightning) Rod of a topic

I'm not very good at resolutions, am I? I wouldn't expect three blog posts this month, but I'll try to do better.

Anyway, back on baseball news, I'm sure many of you heard about the season ban handed down to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees for lying about using illegal drugs.

Since I took a potshot at the issue in Running Bet (if you haven't read it yet, I bet you'll want to in order to find out what I wrote), I figured I ought to explain my views a little.

Major league baseball, as a whole, is pretty schizophrenic about the whole affair. On one hand, punishing people who do not follow the current rules is a valid response. However, the retroactive nature of it - with refusing to consider past violators for the Hall of Fame - really isn't fair.

Outside the infamous Black Sox and Pete Rose, there hasn't been a single player knocked out for violating the rules. (In the case of the latter, he voluntarily accepted it.) This is hardly the impression that they need to make.

While I think a ban going forward is a fantastic concept (and in that regard, A-Rod is guilty as charged), I'd rather them not hold it against past players and abuses. I'd also prefer if they abided by their own rules and only suspended him for fifty days. It was a first offense, even if he lied about it. Whoop de doo.

Either way, I don't expect Bud Selig or the MLB Hall of Fame voters to listen to me, so I suspect that the general state of affairs will continue, and everyone will continue to make themselves look bad. (Just be glad I'm not taking you to task for a non-unanimous Greg Maddux vote.)

Catch you all on the flip side!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another year gone

2013 is over. As I type this, less than an hour remains.

It's been a heck of a year. I learned a lot about what I should and shouldn't be doing. I figured out that I need to be more selective when it comes to side projects. I also learned that I'm not very good at posting on the blog, a detail I need to work on.

The world keeps turning, for better or for worse. Some people passed away, like Stan Musial, Roger Ebert, and Nelson Mandela. Other rose to prominence, including Pope Francis and Felix Kjellberg (Pewdiepie). And some found new ways to express themselves or utilize their fame, like Miley Cyrus and David Ortiz.

Oh, and I wrote a book too.

So what's next? Well, I intend (fingers crossed) to set a goal of updating this blog at least three times every month. I know, it's not guaranteed, but I've got to try. There will be more Thadrick Clant, that much I can guarantee.

Also, I plan on, as a side project, work on another book. Unlike Thadrick Clant, which I try to get out yearly, this book has no definitive timetable. So here's to getting some progress in on that, and potentially expanding my horizons.

2014 comes, and it looks like an exciting year. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you all are too.

Catch you on the flip side!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Back with the book

Well, I'm back after dropping off the planet for a month.

The good news is that with me comes the book. Running Bet is now available on Smashwords and Amazon, and should soon be available through other online bookstores!

<applause>

It's been a hectic past few weeks, trying to get this thing finished and out the door. Honestly, I'm looking forward to taking most of the rest of December off before putting my nose back to the grindstone of writing.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing a lot. But it's mentally exhausting, trying to put hands to keyboard (this is 2013, it's not "pen to paper" any more) and generate interesting and fantastic ideas. This had led to more than a few days of me dragging myself around because I spent the previous evening doing it.

But, in the end, the e-mails and feedback I get from those who do read my books, the ones who connect with my characters and stories...that makes it worth it. Even if it's a small fraction of what the writing titans of modern fantasy do, the fact that I get to entertain people, if briefly, is what keeps me going.

And keep going I will. I have many more ideas for Thadrick Clant, as well as some other ideas that I might start putting into play in 2014. As for what those are...wait and see!

I hope you all enjoy Running Bet, and stick around to enjoy my other books.

Catch you all on the flip side!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The trophy they needed

Well, the World Series has come to a close, and the Red Sox are the champions of the baseball world.

From the point of view of a good narrative, there was no one better. Sure, the Pirates, after twenty years of futility with no winning seasons, probably deserved to be the opponents of the Red Sox. But ultimately, this was their series to win.

Why? Well, there was more at work here than just baseball. The tragic Boston Marathon bombing, which happened this past April, left the city of Boston shaken. Terrorist attacks tend to have that effect, and in this one's wake was left a city that needed some healing.

Enter David Ortiz.


After that moment, the Red Sox had a cause, however crudely put it was. And they kept playing, and winning, and it came to a head this October when they faced the Cardinals. And Ortiz came out to make a statement of a different kind, putting together an insane batting average of .688, carrying his team to a championship title.

Now that is a good story. And if there is one thing I appreciate, be it in sports or elsewhere, it's a good story. This is the story of David Ortiz, Big Papi, who took it on himself to provide hope, both with words and with his bat, to a city that needed them. And this is the story of his team, who helped him make that happen.

I tip my hat to you, Ortiz, and to the Red Sox. You have earned this one, the one thing that Boston needed. Congratulations.

Catch you all on the flip side. Oh, and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Breaking band

I wish I was talking about the series. (I've never seen Breaking Bad.)

I've been a fan of the band Lostprophets for nearly a decade now. Without a doubt, they are one of my favorite bands to listen to, with a lot of good songs. While quite a few people I've talked to have never heard of them, it doesn't matter. Good music is good music, right?

At least, until a little less than a year ago, when the lead singer (one Ian Watkins) got hit with criminal charges centered around planned child molestation. Can you say ouch, ouch, and ouch? It's as disgusting as it is stupid.

Naturally, this killed the band's plan, and they've been on unofficial hiatus. That hiatus ended a few days ago...only to be replaced by the news of the band breaking up.

On one hand, I'm upset that the band did not try to continue with a new singer. So what if you sound different? It would still be good music, and I would likely still give it a try. On the other hand, I can understand. The good name of the band was tainted by what Watkins did, and they have good reason to feel that continuing to produce under that name would be shameful. If my last blog post shows anything, I try to keep my name clean too, after all.

At least I can be consoled by the fact that the Braves are doing decently in the playoffs. Surely nothing else bad could be happening...oh wait, there's that whole government shutdown thing, isn't there. Never mind.

Catch you all on the flip side.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A lesson for us all

No, I'm still around. I just put overtime into my writing, particularly my submission for the new SFFWorld-not-really-sponsored anthology. But about that...

After some wrangling, I came up with a Chinese-esque fable called "Lesson", and submitted it. A few days later, I got a rejection e-mail, informing me of just that, due to issues with the central theme. (The story will soon be going up on FictionPress, so check the Links page in the next few days and it will be there.)

Now, I don't normally have a problem with my work getting rejected. It's part of the writing life that not everyone will like your work. Plus, I know the chief editor in question, so that wasn't an unfriendly gesture or anything. There was no problem with that.

The real problem was that the submission deadline (at the time; it was later extended by two days) for the anthology was Friday, September 13th. The date I sent my submission in was September 4th. The date I got the rejection e-mail back?

September 10th.

For those who do not quite get it, this means the three judges/editors found my story unfit for their anthology without knowing what some of the other submissions contained. Nor did they know if they even would have enough submissions (after my elimination) to complete the anthology, which was planned to contain twelve such stories. That's hardly fair to the people who submitted early.

Furthermore, due to the nature of how this was handled, this creates an unconscious bias towards the stories submitted on or right at the deadline, for two reasons. First, since they are now on a limited time frame to review those stories (as compared to ones submitted before), they have to rush through and may not be as thorough.

Second, since they are desperate to meet the story quota, this may lead them to overlook things they wouldn't have normally, letting in stories that they would not have at an earlier point. Neither of these issues are conscious behavior on their part; it's just part of human nature, rushing things at the end. (Part of being a good writer is having a good grasp on said human nature, after all.)

If I had known this was how they were handling reviewing the submissions, I probably would not have submitted in the first place. As it was, I did not fully realize what was going on until I got my rejection e-mail, basically meaning I spent all that time writing a story for an anthology I would never have really supported in the first place. (Nor would I have mentioned it in my prior blog posts.)

For all writers and would-be writers out there, I can do nothing more than advise you to stay away from editors who run things like this. For the editors themselves, I simply say that if you do insist on managing anthologies and contests this way, I will avoid you and tell others to do the same. It's not personal; it's just that you are (possibly unintentionally) sabotaging the quality of your own efforts, and I cannot, on behalf of myself and other writers, support that with a clear conscience.

There's a reason professional standards exist, and it isn't because some people like tooting their horn as being superior. They exist because, on some level, they work better for everyone involved. That, I think, is a lesson everyone ought to know.

Quite a long post, huh? Anyway, I hope you all enjoy "Lesson", and I'll catch you on the flip side.