You are the Author

Writing on a regular basis is a chaotic challenge. Just when chores and daily responsibilities can be cleared for an hour or two, up pops new problems like issues with both land-line and mobile phones that suck up your time. Ordering a replacement after some research and a quick pick-up clogged like an old artery. Shoving relatives out the door so you can write is frowned upon too. Whether and healthcare snafus add to the interruption package.

None of these help when your muse is being coy and revisions are a slow and aggravating, without even the reward of a shiny new sword skin for the grind in a game. So you trawl the nets for ideas and prompt generators to get your writing moving again.

The bonus digital broadcast channels are homes of some of the best old programming. Many of the old shows that I hadn’t seen in a long time, hold their humor better than I’d expect. I watch the episodes of the Carson Tonight show most days now. See stars in their prime, stars that are gone now can be bittersweet. Last weekend they swapped a show with Mohammad Ali after his death. A younger Betty White played Jane in a Tarzan sketch. You can see a very young Ellen, long before Finding Dory. A very few celebs that got zinged by the King of Late Night about their mistresses are still in the news… but now they are running for president. In some ways it’s sad how little has really changed since these 25-year old shows.

The funny thing is some of these are clever one liners that would make funny stories. The writing reference book shown in the clip is only the start of that business. There are many, many reference and how-to books. (some are very bad or counter-productive) When I was into that genre, I wanted to have a reference book on manners, culture, current events, and arts/fashion/music/books/dance/theater of a particular period. Even then, period romances already began to feel too much of the 20th century, now in the 21st the characters in 1820 almost act like they need their Mini to get to an event. The crowdsourced humor here in the Carson clip is better than some actual stories I’ve sampled.

Telephonic Spam

[ring]
“Hello?”
“We’re a green company that…”

Oh, is that your ace card to get me to stay on the line for your spam call? You don’t want to rely on the reputation of your product or company to make this worth my time? You think the magic word ‘green‘ will turn off my brain and open my wallet? Does ‘green’ really mean anything significant, or do you just recycle your office cans? How does this magic word make your middleman charity be more effective or make the knee brace help my mother walk better? Are you really generating electricity from wind turbines, or buying from coal facilities and still charging the higher clean rate? What makes you think my insurance that you’re sure you can charge, hasn’t already offered the same service? Just tell me what you’re selling up front and stop wasting everybody’s time. [click]

It’s not like these telemarketing solicitations give the name of their product or a specific company. I mean if it was a call from my favorite book store telling me that the new Bujold cook came in, I would be glad to hear that spiel. (That would be an impressive trick as my favorite bookstore went belly-up a few years ago) Marketers don’t want to identify the seller or product or leave their script even when asked. They will say anything to keep you, and they’ve burnt us several times.

Really, the arrogance of these to think I want to hang around listening to them babble a script or recording when I have important nails to file, puppies to entertain, and books to read.

Pool’s Open?

Some traditions and folk lore were originally grounded in common sense. ‘Red sky at morning…’ said bad weather was coming.  If a crop was ‘knee high by the fourth of July,’ it would be a good harvest. Others seem cause an outdated and pointless self-induced jet-lag, like daylight saving time, when we use electricity morning and night. Another tradition that might be good to retire is the opening of pools on Memorial day.  Some pools are year-round, so this Memorial day pool opening tradition isn’t relevant)

Modern Thermal Bath, from Explore Italian Culture

If we’re going to get upset about warming climate since the last ice age ten thousand years ago, we must admit that we need to adapt if we want to survive. More active storms aren’t the only way weather will change modern life: summer will be longer.  And hotter.  Even a predicted twenty degree change won’t remove winter and snow where I live, as we have stretches of winter where it stays near 0F for weeks.  Twenty degrees warmer is still below freezing, so winter isn’t going away anytime soon.

So it’s warmer all the time, and we won’t have to be as concerned about the water pipes freezing. (that would have helped me with those frozen pipe last year) Oh, we have air conditioning and major storm warnings here in the 21st century to help with the physical changes. What we also should start to consider is how we will adapt socially. How will we change the way we live?

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Reflections on Editing

Wit

“Since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief…” Polonius, Shakespeare

I read a number of blogs, some professional, some philosophical, and some web strips. For some, the regular commentators have very good things to say. Others get muddled and run on and on circling but never getting to the point. (We’ll leave the nutty out. And wise-ass usually keep it brief) But I find that few opinion essays longer than maybe three paragraphs need to have compelling writing and direction to keep my attention.

That means I try to write the kinds of things I would want to read.

I started out reading and admiring Robert Heinlein, who said he wrote his first draft and recommended cutting away 20%. It took me months of my fanfic time to realize that wasn’t a good rule of thumb for me. My tendency under that rule was to be so concise that I only hinted at things. I didn’t want to over explain things as that insults the reader. I didn’t explain enough. Oh, my sentences and grammar were okay, but I left out too many descriptions too often. I don’t want my mystery or problem’s solution to be obvious, but the clues must be present. I want to play fair. So, to prevent saying too much, I said too little.

I still struggle with that in my fiction, but instead of cutting 20%, I usually add about 30% for descriptions, feelings, and showing things explicitly. In essays or comments, I try not to ramble. The old showbiz adage to always leave them wanting more applies outside showbiz too. You can’t convince anyone if you bore them.

Garnets to Opals, Necklace of Gems

What, then should a collection of gemmed necklaces be? A pirate’s treasure, of course.

cover of Necklace of Gems short story collection

Dig among within the treasure chest for the prettiest gems…

Another milestone! I’ve published my first dead tree book of fiction. This is a collection of my short fiction from 2015. I finished five collections, and themed each collection on gems for the cover art: garnet, amber, lapis, citrine, and opal. Don’t we all like something that’s shiny or sparkly? I always wanted to make the entire year available as one collection. A handful of stories at a time was not enough when I was having book binges before I wrote. I had a couple of requests for paperback editions of the earlier collections, but they’re much too short to be worth the physical copy overhead. This time you have the choice of ebook or paperback.

This paperback and ebook editions include all the stories in the five necklace collections, plus two extras. One was part of an invitational Advent project, and the other was specifically written to be a bonus for the 2015 collection. That makes thirty-seven tales of fantasy and science fiction in the Necklace of Gems collection. All are short, but some are part of a larger story, like the SF Curiosity Station.

And now it’s time to pick a new theme for my fiction collections for 2016, so I’ll try to make a good one…

And if you want to give my fic a try or don’t want to wait for the next omnibus, the smaller collections should do:

Earlier Collections:

Necklace of  Opals collection

Necklace of opals…

Necklace of Citrine collection cover

Necklace of Citrine

Necklaced of Lapis SF/F short stories

Necklace of Lapis

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet