Monthly Archives: June 2015

Change in plans progress

As I told you some time ago, I was placing my first book on the “resting” pile because of my dissatisfaction with my writing of it. Instead I turned to a book I had started during a prior rest of the first, and found that it was much closer to completion than I thought. Aha! The first part has been beta read with hopeful reviews. The second part will be sent out this week, closely follwoed by the third part. The editor should have it by the end of July or beginning of August, and she has proved very efficient!

Dare I hope that there will be a publication in the fall? I have been the boy who cried wolf for the last year. This product is much superior to the one I was hoping for last year. Why? Because, funny thing, the more one writes, the better one gets. Some authors say that you need to write a million words before you can call yourself a novelist. I’m not close to that. I’m probably checking in somewhere between 300,000  and 500,000, many of them on this blog. There are some in what will be the third and fourth book of the series that arises from the poor first book that was sitting on my home page for six months or more. They won’t see the light of day unless I can rescue my poor Fantastical Trips.

The new one has a working title of Wandering Ways, but I’m hoping my beta and I can work out something a little more exciting. The story does include a lot of wandering but that is neither necessary nor sufficient to include it in the title.  I think that Peary Does Magic is too infantile. As I am writing this at 5 am after no sleep, I doubt I can trust my imagination to throw up something palatable or even sane.

Before I get too silly, I ought to bring this to a close. But the future is looking a little brighter, if not enough to break out the shades.

Charleston

I have been discussing on LinkedIn with other writers the role of reality in fantasy books, and it got me thinking about fantasists who write about tragedies and terrorism, as happened in Charleston this past week. Nine people I never knew, and whose existence I was unaware of, in a few short hours meant more to me than any fantasy character I had ever “met.” Real life matters, but fantasy can be a refuge in times of real trauma. I don’t understand much of the dystopian fantasy that is now being written, when we face such horrors in real life. Are we being told that humanity is actually as bad as writers portray us in the face of apocalypse?

I don’t believe that it is possible to convey in fiction the actual depth of the horror that reality brings. There is an immediacy to events like Charleston that no book can adequately convey. This is not a slap at the novel, but a reflection of the visceral feeling that one can experience for another person, or nine, as the case may be. What makes reality more interesting is that the chorus of naysayers about the tragedy would not be believable in a book

There are two comments that set me off in particular. One I received by way of Rick Santorum, but it was  a comment supported by many people, particularly those of the religious right.  They insist, in spite of all the evidence, that the assault in Charleston was a religious attack. How can this possibly be true when the surviving witness and the alleged perpetrator both agree that race was the only reason for the attack?

Perhaps more troubling is the idiocy coming from the NRA. Their solution? Arm the ministers. Say what? The message of most of those ministers/preachers/priests is of the importance of love and compassion, and of a God of Love, a Prince of Peace. And these advocates are supposed to carry guns? The NRA has never been renowned for its logical reasoning, but this one doesn’t pass the straight face test. Next it will be courts or Congress where guns should be carried, all for the false sense of security that these folks get from their own guns.

NRA idiots should realize one thing about the so-called right to carry arms. Inherent in the right to carry arms is the right to refuse to carry arms. The right to carry arms, to the extent it exists, does not give anyone the right to compel others to bear arms.

As I mourn the dead, and empathize with the living of the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church, I swear that I will never write a book that tries to create in the reader the pain and horror of this past week. I will not profit off the anguish of fictional characters nor will I glorify the use of weapons to solve disagreements.

The Red Sox Won!!!!!

Yes, indeed, the Red Sox finally broke a horrendous losing streak, and did it in fine style. The Brock Star (Brock Holt for those not in the know) hit for the cycle! Lots of guys hit who had not been doing so which was very good news. Wade Miey looked pretty darn good too, which is a wonderful sign.

All of this means that I am primed for writing more tomorrow because I’m in a good mood. I’m working on a book I started when Fantastical Trips was resting (like now). I seem to have found a new editor which is good because I may finish the current draft on this one by the end of the week, and it will be off to my beta reader ASAP. He’s a bit tough on me, so there will be rewriting to do when I get it back, but then off to the editor. Its working title is Wandering Ways, but that is open to changes as I get more feedback.

Here’s the current first paragraph:

I thought I would go wandering. My mother always said there had to be more to the world than our little village, and there was rumor of a city if I were to take the high road out. My father died years ago when he and others of the men tried to build a tower of stone, which they hoped to use as a lookout to be able to observe the country around us and warn of any dangers. When all were involved in raising the next course of stones, the tower tilted and crushed them all, twenty-three men between the ages of 22 and 59. Only five men remained alive in the village, four grandfers and Olly Bright, the biggest fool you’re likely to meet. Olly always had pretensions of running us, and when he was the only able-bodied man left, he certainly tried. But the old ladies put such a fright into him that he never did more than take his equipment to all the fields of all the ladies in town and plow them for free, or for an occasional home-cooked meal.

My editor thinks I need a stronger first line. What do you think? The person who comes up with something better that I use will get a copy of the ebook when it comes out. I know, this isn’t really fair, since you have no idea where the story is going, but I’ll give you a hint. She’s under a compulsion of which she is unaware. So please, give me some suggestions, and I’ll let you know in about a month if it’s been picked.

Red Sox Malaise

It is a bit early in the baseball season to be totally down on my favorite baseball team. But it is annoying that our pitching is so erratic that we cannot win for love or money. My favorite pitcher for many years has been Clay Buchholz ( I don’t know if that’s spelled right, he either has two ‘c’s or two ‘h’s and I can never remember which.) and he has shown moments of his brilliant self this year. But he is unreliable right now. The arms that we got to replace those lost in the fire sale of talent last year have been similarly inconsistent, and mostly down. A few moments of pleasure mixed with a bunch of pain.

The big hitters are showing some sign of waking up. They got us 5 runs today, which would normally be enough but the pitching went seriously south, and the opposing team had 13 runs. It is days like this, when I stay to the bitter end, thata I know there are better ways to spend my time.

After all, I have two different books in progress and another one is resting for a rewrite. I have books I want to read and things I want to knit (though I can knit and watch the Red Sox at the same time). I walked the labyrinth at my church today before the service, and there was the funniest service I have ever attended. This left me feeling  enlivened and willing to face anything. Then the Red Sox.

It’s hard to break a 48 year habit. Especially when the other habits I’m trying to tear myself away to do are only of a few years’ duration.  So what is a person to do?

Well, I went to LinkedIn and removed myself from groups I hadn’t looked at in a year. I commented on a few threads that I should have noticed earlier. I watched a short video about self-marketing on Facebook. I played with my cats. I checked out apartments. I did all the other time-wasting things one does whiile waiting for something magical to happen on the baseball diamond. Then I turned off the tv and wrote. Which is what I shoud have been doing anyway. Bah, humbug.

A Girl and a Bad Cop

We’ve all seen the video now of the young teen girl in a bathing suit being thrown to the ground by a cop with a bad attitude. There is a report that the police were called because black kids were in their local pool. Why would a cop go in with that attitude he showed for a dispute over who could use a pool?  The kid who took the video is white. The officers walked close by him several times and ignored him completely. The bad cop (hereafter bc) actually took down the two black kids who were standing closest to him, and left him alone. Why was he filmimg? Because, shhhh!, they were his friends. Yeah, that’s right. The white kid was friends with the black kids. There is indeed hope for the future. But not because of cops like bc.

There were several other cops there and they only interfered with bc when he pulled his gun on two kids who were trying to help the girl on the ground. The kids ran, and the other cops ran after them. One has been charged with interfering with the police. Those two young men were brave and compassionate to their friend who was being abused by bc.

And what was the young lady’s offense? She was running her mouth. Which is such a major crime that the Founding Fathers gave us all a Get Out Of Jail Free card for something called free speech. She had every right to “run her mouth” because no crime was committed here until the cops came along. Then the racist handcuffing of black kids only, and initially only black boys happened. She was the only girl handcuffed and bc did it, after slamming her face into the pavement and kneeling on her bare back.

I’ve been mad about the killing of young black men that seems to have reached epic proportions over the past year. But this one absolutely curdles my blood. That girl is a child. She asked her friends to call her mother. The handcuffed boys had committed the crime of being black and male. There was no evidence of a crime having been committed and the black kids were rounded up as if they were a criminal mob. Why can’t we get cops who see people as individuals? Who don’r see evil by color of skin? Who actually enforce laws as written, and not how they think the laws should have been written? Who understand that their job is peacekeeping for all of the people?

I spent several years early in my career as a public defender. There were a few bad apples in the various police departments I dealt with, but nothing like we’re seeing now. Can it be that all these cops have responded this way because the feds have given them excess military equipment? Is it simply that the cops have been militarized and picked the enemy because of prejudice or a long history of the judicial system failing the African American community? There ought to be mandatory daily training and discussion about this problem in police stations all over this country. The prosecuting attorneys should take part in sensitivity training, since they in general haven’t looked too good in this either. Ferguson where the prosecutor gave the wrong law to the grand jury, ensuring there would be no indictment. Staten Island where a video showed an illegal choke hold and the grand jury did nothing.

This has got to stop. If this is what happens in a free country, how free are we? And don’t get me started on torturung (Chicago, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo) or spying on us as if we’re all threats to the security of this country (thank you, Edward Snowden).

Tor and Sad/Rabid Puppies

There is a war going on in the blogosphere between certain employees of Tor, the once great publisher of scifi/fantasy, and the proponents of alternate slates for the Hugo, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. I have watched it with some interest, since I am undoubtedly one of those the Puppies in general would not like, but I have found their position actually has merit.

There was a time, many years ago, when one could buy a book honored with the Hugo award and know that the book would be well written, well edited, and thought provoking. This has not been the case for several years, I am sorry to report. In fact, there was a time, again many years ago, that one could buy a book published by Tor, and have a good read that might be thought provoking but was at minimum a good story well told. This is sadly no longer the case. I used to buy a Tor book even if the blurb wasn’t particularly inviting, because I trusted Tor. This is no longer the case.

Tor employees have attacked the Sad/Rabid Puppies as racist, misogynist, right wing whackos. The fact is that this reviling became much louder after the Sad Puppy slate won most of the Hugo niminations. What? They outvoted you? Doesn’t this sound like the Republicans after our current president was elected? Are you sure you want to go there?

As for me, as a longtime reader and fan of scifi and fantasy, I no longer pay attention to the Hugo. It has become a tiny, parochial award instead of the great honor it used to be. Many of the authors who won it in the past would be discarded now as old white men, in spite of the brilliant, ground breaking work they did.  It makes no sense. And for a publishing company to get into this argument through its employees is unacceptable. The Hugo used to be an award to tell fans that a work was great and worthy of reading. When it has become such a small thing, a publishing company is certainly taking its life in its hands by stooping to get involved in the fight.

The whole mess leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. For a group of writers to have to propose an alternate slate because the guardians of an award have neglected over half of the good books published in a year is inexcusable.

White men have as much a right to be read and heard as do all the other permutations of writers. I’m an elderly white woman still trying to perfect a book that is worthy of publishing. By the time I’m ready, will old white women join old white men on the no-go list? And who decides?

Political correctness carried to an extreme is as bad as any other philosophy or religion. Do the politically correct at Tor and the Hugo want to be compared to the Taliban or Isis? Because that’s where you’re headed. Extremism in any venture is inherently unstable.

Ting cellular service

I know this is going to sound very strange, but for all my American followers who have cell phones, TING is a deal for people who don’t use theirs much. I’ve had them for several months now and I’m very satisfied. With a used smartphone, I signed up and my bill averages less than $25 a month, with no start-up cost. You get a certain number of minutes, messages and internet usage for a flat fee, and if you go over, you’ll know exactly what the next level is and how much more you have till it goes up again. I’ve gone over the minutes once and over the internet once, but it’s ridiculously inexpensive if you’re not a heavy user.

From now until 11:59pm ET on Monday, June 8, the Ting Refer a Friend program is offering you $100 to try Ting mobile phone service. If you sign up and activate a phone, I’ll also receive a $50 credit and yes, once you join Ting, you’ll be able to refer your friends too.

zini6c3f639.ting.com. That’s my unique referral URL and the key to this offer. Click through and you’ll receive $100 off select phones in the Ting shop or a $100 credit if you bring your own phone to Ting.

Speaking of which, the phone you already own will probably work with Ting. Go to the Ting compatibility checker to find out for sure.

You can find Ting by googling it. There you will have all you need to figure out if you can use it and if it will work for you. The coverage is pretty good, but not perfect. Whose is? But if you already have a smartphone you can probably use it with a SIM from Ting. What have you got to lose? Look it up!