Telephonic Spam

“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.

Reflections on Editing


“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.

Twice in One Month!

Success! I managed to catch up with one of my major writing goals for last month, I finished my fourth collection. I’m really glad because this collection includes my gothic mystery. The movie Alien combined SF and a gothic Cthulhu menace, but less helpless and free of agency.

Now that it’s October, I need to kick into high gear to prep for NaNo. I want to have a cushion if finished stories, so I can still publish collections for both October and November. My ideas for my NaNo book this year feel to insubstantial to sustain 50k words. Also, I’m starting to regret that I have an unfinished fanfic and readers who deserve an ending after my dawdling…

We’re not even going to think about holiday prep for a week.

SF/F short story collection cover

Necklace of Citrine collection

Any hard won victory can still be lost. Any future denied if foresight is flawed.


On a tiny research station, a poor orphan gets a place as apprentice, but when she arrives she learns that her mentor supposedly committed suicide from space madness. Which secrets are worth a life? In another tale, powerful senator in a cruel empire plans against his brother, who may be his nemesis and death.

Wanting and hard work may not be enough when there are dangerous secrets in these tales of empty wastes and poisonous double dealing.


Earlier collections:

SF/F short story collection cover

Necklace of Lapis collection

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet

It’s Been Quiet Because…

I’ve been working on finishing my third collection of short fiction. I’m proud of this one, as it includes some tales I’m particularly fond of. One has been kicking around in revision all year.  This time I’ve included more fantasy that is a little darker, and my next collection will have more SF.

SF/F short story collection cover

Necklace of Lapis collection

Edge of Change and Ruin

Sometimes the world turns a little darker than before, leaving a hunter chasing dread hounds through the night, through blood and death and places never seen. A young woman discovers that some tyrants are more benevolent than others that provide pretty ribbons. A dark fey flees the slaughter of her family, but she lacks the magical power of her people for her vengeance.

In these tales, lofty plans do not always lead to wealth and world power, they may only lead to ruin.




Earlier collections:

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet

Dialogue Machine

Dialogue is usually one of my favorite parts of writing. Like many writers, I have to make a special effort to include enough exposition that my readers get my world, but resisting infodumps from world-building.  Dialogue is about showing character and moving things along.

I love changing hats for the characters in a story. I know when I have a good handle on a character when their words flow out of their point of view and goals. Sometimes that character’s hat gets so strong and solid, that they start commenting on things in real life. I’m never quite sure if that’s an encouraging sign to have that rich a characterization, or if that is a different kind of problem.

A fun thing is ‘writing’ dialogue for your dogs. You can see what they’re feeling, especially with the puppy who still hasn’t learned their limits:

  1. ‘But daddy, you’re done with that napkin. Why can’t I have it? I will just suck on it. I’ll shred it later.’
  2. ‘First you tell me to speak and you talk Scooby at me, and then want me to shut up?’
  3. (after licking older dog’s face) Hmm, those crumbs taste good. I will make sure you’re clean so you can get unimpeded smells… of my butt.’ (This is not unrelated to the older and smaller dog making the younger one yip when they won’t stop X behavior: stealing food, trying to steal napping dog’s chair, blocking access to a person)
  4. ‘Oooh, that bacon smells SO good! I don’t care that I can’t digest pork. I will be really good. please, please, PLEASE!’
  5. ‘Why is this bed so crowded? That’s fine, you can get off.’
  6. ‘Why can’t we wrestle and  charge around the house at 3am? You don’t want to play?’

What’s That On My Answering Machine?

We got a call last week from the IRS after scrambling to grab the phone. (After the call was picked up the machine stopped recording) The voice was saying there was a judgement against me and arrest was coming…

Antique rotary phone

Old Phone, by Doug. Creative Commons 2.0

Well, that’s enough to start a panic, even if I file returns as I should, the best I can. Then I worry of it’s one of my roomates, the caller wasn’t a real person and I couldn’t even find out who they were calling. Then I remember that the Feds don’t do nothing without reams of paperwork, and dismiss it.

The third day of calls, I’m starting to worry despite the warning bells. And the lack of identifying information for the supposed tax-crook is really suspicious. But.. this is the IRS, not known for being sunshine and happy bunnies. A friend’s father had a stressful problem and lawsuit once. So I look for the local IRS office to confirm they aren’t calling us. No, I would not call a random toll number that isn’t even plausible as a major IRS office. (Surprise, the local office does NO phone business, only walkup) So I find a major metro IRS help line and she confirms that they don’t do that kind of thing by phone. I didn’t have any information written from the calls to tell her, but she mentioned the wave of impersonation calls right now.

Two days later, and we’s still getting ‘last chance’ calls. The Better Business Bureau  and other news sources are warning people about this scam. This wave of scammers pressure their victims to pay now or a warrant will be issued. The calls include an agent number and case number to make the recording to sound real. The scammers will accept wire payments or plastic to prevent arrest.

If you did that, the money’s probably gone forever.

If you’ve received these calls, contact the Treasury Inspector General and report the details. I know I’d love to hear about the snots who are doing this, getting put away for enforced public service wearing neon pink or orange jumpsuits in the heat. That kind of fear-mongering would have sent Mr Sanford up to his Elizabeth, and I don’t want that to happen to my elders or friends.