Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Month of Sorrows

So January is over. I now have two reasons to hate the month. First, it was in January that my dog Dusty unexpectedly fell ill and died two years ago. He was only five. Of course the second reason is my recent computer crash. So bring on February, even if it is the month in which I will turn forty. January's stats are a follows: six rejections and two acceptances. My micro piece Order Up is now online at Micro 100.

I worked on Deadliest Cachalot more last night and today. Again, I have kept to a rather languid pace. Still, this rewrite should be complete by tomorrow or Monday night. Then I'll let it sit a day or two before revising. Of course, I did the same thing last time and never got the chance to revise. This time I am prepared: all my important files are now on a flash drive.

Perusing Duotrope earlier today, I saw a new listing for the Hideous Evermore Anthology. Creature themed horror? Now this sounds like something I can really get into. I've already got numerous ideas bouncing around. As for existing stories, A Cause For Celebration, my twice rejected zombieless zombie story, got sent off again today. Here's hoping that the third time is the charm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Wasted Night

I don't know if it's because of the rejection I got today from Flash Fiction Online (for a story that no longer exists thanks to the recent crash), general laziness or something else entirely, but I got little writing done tonight on Deadliest Cachalot. The irony is that since this is one of the nights that The Other Half works doing taxes, I had no distractions. Hopefully tomorrow night and this weekend I can devote some time to it.

When taking the dogs outside earlier so that they could pee, I began thinking about the genesis of scary scenes in books. Often I have read a scene or passage where the character is doing something quite ordinary, but the creepiness and dread have been cranked up several notches. I started to look at the things I did in my day to day existence and tried to find a way to make them freaky and/or scary. Thus we come to the dogs' outdoor pee excursion.

We have the yard on one side of our house filled with small rocks. This is where the dogs do their "business." This area does not run the entire length of the house, only from the front fence to a point about eight feet from the back end of the house. To keep the dogs in this area, I constructed a small fence/barrier from an old doggie play pen. Thus there is a good stretch of dirt beyond that fence before you actually reach the end of the house and the back yard. That area tends to get neglected when I go weed whacking. Lately, a large weed has sprung up just on the other side of the small fence, and has grown rather large. Large enough for a cat or small animal to hide behind. At night, when I use a flashlight to help see out there, I see that weed through the small fence. When the wind blows, it moves and the dancing shadows always makes it look like something is hiding behind it. After noticing that, I decided that I just had to put a scene like that in a story at some point....but what will be hiding behind the weed?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back In The Saddle

Worked on Deadliest Cachalot some more tonight. I'm going slower with it this time around than the first version. Then I was in a hurry to get all my thoughts down before they vanished from my head. Now, knowing exactly where the story is going and what needs to be done, I'm taking my time with it. The first version ended up around 5,000 words. Tonight was my third night on this version and I've barely scratched 1,200. The story is remaining the same, but I've changed a few things this time. Stuff like names, certain bits of conversation and what not. One thing I was not happy with in the initial version was the name of the catamaran used to ferry passengers on a whale-watching tour. Does anyone have any suggestions for a boat name? My brain is fried and that is a sure sign that it is bedtime (either that or time to run for public office, but I'm going with sleep this time around), so I'm off to snoozeland.

PS. It feels good to be writing again. I was afraid the two weeks without a computer and the subsequent bad news would quell my enthusiasm, but I still feel the need to write.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading Cycles

I don't know how true this is with other folks, but I have always found myself reading in cycles. In the past, a month or two would pass by and I would read very little, then in a furious assault on my library, I would speed through a dozen books before taking a break. In more recent years I had found that those non-reading periods were getting longer and longer. This bugged me because the books that I wanted to read began piling up rather fast. However, I just didn't have the time to read as much as I did in earlier periods of my life. I would always have to sacrifice time from one activity to gain time to read. That changed last year when I changed positions at work. Where before it was almost impossible for me to even get a break during the day, I now find that my job provides lots of time that requires me to just sit and wait, which make excellent opportunities to read. I've read more books in the last year than I did for the two years before that combined. So not only am I working my through my books at a steady pace, but I don't have to make time to read any more.

Another reading cycle is topic. I go through periods where I will only read certain genres. For the last half of 08', it was horror. Right now I am back into fantasy with a series by David and (the late) Leigh Eddings. After a few more fantasy books, I have some Star Trek books I want to get to as well as some other Science Fiction which as been on the shelf for too long. As I am addicted to buying books, I have hundreds that I have yet to read, so who knows which way I'll go next.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Moving On

So last night I did something I thought I wasn't going to do: I started writing Deadliest Cachalot again. Yes, I was supremely bummed by my recent computer woes, but continual whining isn't going to accomplish a damn thing, so I decided to move on. It's either that or stew in self pity for weeks as an excuse to not write anything. I don't think so. I am determined to write that story again and make it better than it was the first time. The same with The Transcendental Man.

I did get a bit of good news last night. The Other Half looked through the files on her computer and found unrevised versions of The Madness in Their Eyes, Pruritus Maximus, On Thin Ice and the execrable The Architects of Entropy. So I'll probably re-revise a couple of those and get them subbed again.

Proving that I am a shameless copycat at times, I added a submission tracker gadget to the right column, the idea provided by Jamie Eyberg.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In Memoriam

Well, I got the word yesterday that the hard drive is a total loss. My only option is to pay big bucks to have somebody take it apart in a clean room and recover the data. Alas, I don't have that kind of money, so I must start over from scratch. I post this to remember everything that I lost.

Deadliest Cachalot - My story for the Dead Bait anthology, about people on a whale-watching tour near the Farallon Islands (30 miles west of San Francisco) who are attacked by mutated Sperm whales and giant albino crabs. I suppose I could try rewriting this one, but right now I just don't feel like it.

The Transcendental Man - My time travel story that was going to be subbed to one of two upcoming time themed anthologies. I really like the idea in this one, so this one will definitely be rewritten.

The Madness in Their Eyes - An older story I spruced up in the last couple of months. A trio of campers find something strange in an old mine, then they begin acting weird...but who is really behaving strangely - Tommy or the other two? Are those extradimensional beings real or just figments of his imagination? This story is now history.

The Faceless Ones - My Devil's Food story. A bunch of college frat boys are playing tricks on the homeless people of the city, but find that many of the vagrants have been organized by someone into a cult. A cult whose god is fairly hungry. I have not heard back from this one yet. If it is rejected, I hope they can salvage the file and send it back to me.

Pruritus Maximus - This one was written for the Dark Jesters anthology and made it fairly close to the final round (I think). It's the story of a man that takes a dare and as a result, his testicles begin to itch and won't stop. At first this leads to some embarrassing situations, but as the ultimate itch grows in intensity, things take a darker turn. Like The Faceless Ones, this is currently subbed and if rejected again, may be salvaged. The wife has an older version on her computer, so it’s not a total loss.

Nuts – This one was accepted by 52 Stitches, so when it goes online, I can copy and paste it back into my files!

Download – This story was never subbed because I just couldn’t get the technology to work within the story, but kept the piece in hopes of working it out someday. It revolves around a youth downloading music, which inadvertently sets of the apocalypse.

Reflections of Infinity – My horror/science fiction novel. Only the prologue and first two chapters were completed, so it wasn’t too bad of a loss. Still, I liked what was there. Sigh.

The Architects of Entropy – One of the first stories I ever submitted. It sucks. Bigtime. Cosmic beings known as Eternity and Infinity are shepherded by a third named Destiny. The trio try explaining to their master why Humans are so slow in progressing. This was my lame ass attempt to explain why the scientific method was dropped for a while at one time in the past. Losing it is no loss, though I love the title so much I am determined to use it again some day.

GIA Files: The Axis War - A story I wrote for my friend’s science fiction universe about an Earth colony’s war for Independence. He may still have a copy.

The Ice Pond – A nonfiction piece I wrote about my mother when she was a child in the 1930’s. It was published in Good Old Days Magazine. Alas, my contributor’s copy is now missing.

On Thin Ice – A story about a young girl encountering a water fairy in a frozen pond. Based on my mother’s experience as a child (though she never met any fairy).

The Portrait - A fantasy story about a man who can paint portraits that tell that person’s future. He paints one for the king and an assassination plot is uncovered….but who is really pulling all the strings?

A Counterpoint of Shadows – A fantasy story about a group of people trapped in an inn during a harsh winter storm. There is a murder, but no one there is what they appear to be, including the man sent by the king to trail the killer.

Who Hunts The Hunters? - Working title for a story about a group of deer hunters that uncovers the truth behind the spooky legends surrounding a local gulch. This one was about 50% completed. I'll probably revisit the idea some day.

The Weed - Working title for a story about a woman who has a weed in her front yard that seems to be moving closer and closer to her house. Is it related to the strange sounds she hears at night or her boyfriend's increasingly strange behavior? About 30% complete. Another I'll return to at some point.

Flash and Micros – There were a handful of flash and micro fiction pieces that went bye bye as well. Since they were so short, I feel that they can be rewritten rather easily.

Fanfic – While it never had a shot of being published anywhere except the internet, I had several Star Trek fanfics that I had written. Gone.

In addition to all the finished stuff, there were several “in progress” stories as well as copious notes for others. All shot to hell now. I had rather large files detailing the fantasy world I created: notes on kingdoms, people, cultures, geographic features and what not. Likewise for my science fiction setting, where all the info on aliens, planets, interstellar governments and what not is now all gone, down the black hole of crashed hard drives.

All my non fiction is gone. Columns I wrote for various websites (and which are no longer around): gone. Fortunately, much of that type of stuff is still online, so I can easily retrieve it. The 400,000+ words for my B-movie website are also gone, along with every graphic, screen cap, sound file and video clip. Those can be retrieved, but it will be a time consuming affair.

Music and TV. While I can easily replace all the music files, I won’t bother with the 4 seasons of Doctor Who and two seasons of Torchwood that are gone. I have the DVD’s, but having the episodes on the computer was rather nice.

There is a lot more that is gone like photos, graphics, porn (yes, I fully admit to having porn on the computer) various programs and games, but those are easily replaced.

What really bums me out are the lists I kept that are now gone. I mentioned my book list the other day. I’ll have to do that one over, but I will never be able to put them in the order I read them again, so I’ve decided to just make a master list of all my books. Ditto with the DVD and VHS lists I had.

Overall, it's a dark day in these parts. Time to go medicate myself with pretzels and soda...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Computer

Well, two weeks after the last one went kaput, I finally have my new computer up and running. Now I don't have to try and use The Other Half's system. The data on the old hard drive is still in limbo. The logic board for the drive was shot, so I bought an identical drive off eBay for 30 bucks and the tech guy is going to swap the new one for the old one. Hopefully that will allow the old drive to post and I can get all my stuff. If it's all lost for good, then I can get on with life with this new machine. I'll have to re-create some of my old files, though I doubt I'd try and re-write any of the stories with the exception of The Transcendental Man, though I'd probably wait awhile to do that.

One of the things I fear losing is a list I've kept of every scifi, fantasy and horror book I have read since 1984. The list is just a wee bit shy of 1000 entries and though I could compile all the titles again, I could never hope to list them in order like they were the first time. As goofy as that sounds, the idea bums me out. I can look at that list and recall certain periods of my life when reviewing what I read in years past. Speaking of books, so far this year I've completed three, listed to the right.

No new rejections or acceptances, so the count for 2009 is Rejections: 4, Acceptances: 2

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

So it's been a little over a week since the computer went kablooey. The tech guy is still working to retrieve the data on the drive, so all of my work is still in limbo. It sucks, because I've given thought to my Dead Bait story and have changes I would like to make, but can't. In fact, I have written nothing. This is partly because I'm waiting for the verdict on the hard drive and partly because I hate using the wife's computer. Her chair in here is uncomfortable (mine won't fit through the door to my office, so bringing it in here is not an option), the Internet is slower in here due to the wireless router and her keyboard sucks. So over the last week, I've spent less than an hour total online. At least I've had time to read books and play the Wii. Tomorrow I'm heading out with the tech guy to purchase components for a new computer. I'm going to need one regardless of the outcome with the old drive. I also got a rejection today from Shock Totem for my story The Madness in Their Eyes. Not totally unexpected. I just hope the story survives to be subbed again at some point.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome To My Personal Armageddon

So Tuesday and Wednesday nights I spent revising both The Transcendental Man and Deadliest Cachalot. I actually fell asleep both nights at the computer, but was making good progress. I felt T-Man was ready to be subbed and Deadliest was getting there.

Then my computer decided to lock up and crash.

I can't get the fucker to boot up and now I have no idea if I will be able to save any of my files. It all could very well be gone. Forever. The last time I made a backup was so long back, it ain't even worth considering for much of my work. Now, the music, videos, graphics and other assorted stuff - I'll be disappointed if they are lost, but will deal. It's the 15 years worth of stories, notes, columns, articles and other things I've written that I am worried about. If those are gone, I may very well have to commit seppuku (I have a decent sword collection after all) or something.

The ironic part? This coming Saturday I was planning on purchasing an external drive for the sole purpose of backing up my stuff. Making things worse, I cannot even check my email! For some idiotic reason, I wrote down the passwords for all my email accounts except for the one I've used to submit stories. So I can check all the other accounts via The Other Half's computer (which I'm using now), but I have no idea if I'm receiving any rejections or acceptances. I have to wait until Saturday before the tech guy can look at things and determine how bad things are.

All in all, if I lose all my stuff, I'm gonna be pretty devastated. Sure, I can always re-write The Transcendental Man, Deadliest Cachalot, The Faceless Ones and others, all under the notion that they can only be improved upon, but I wouldn't really have much enthusiasm. The prospect of all my stuff vanishing into the great unknown, along with some records that I've kept for 20+ years, would be enough to make me consider giving up at writing again.

Here's hoping it can all be saved.

EDIT: Well, with help from The Other Half, I found the password for my email and what the hell do you know, there was an acceptance from They accepted my flash piece The Memory of Life and have already posted it. Read it HERE.

So the official 2009 tally is Rejections: 3, Acceptances: 2, Potential Catastrophes: 1

Monday, January 5, 2009

I've Been Tagged

Catherine J. Gardner tagged me along with six other So here goes.

Share seven facts about yourself in the post. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.

1. I drive a tanker truck very much like this one for a living. Yes, it is in essence a big bomb on wheels. I've been driving truck for twelve years now, but don't exactly conform to the stereotype of a trucker (I took my stuffed bunny with me when I drove long haul).

2. I come from a "Yours, Mine and Ours" type family, only with a lot less children. Mom had two kids from her first marriage. Same with Dad. They got hitched and four years later, I came along. The funny part? The real life Doctor who delivered the "ours" baby in the real life "Yours, Mine and Ours" story (yes, that was a true story) also delivered me.

3. As noted above, I am the youngest of five children. What I didn't mention was that I am the only male child. Yes, I had four older sisters and was the baby brother that was the ideal test subject for such things as lipstick, nail polish and other cosmetic horrors. Therapy can do wonders. Thankfully, since I was so completely unexpected, all my sisters were quite a bit older than me and by the time I was five, they had left home, allowing me to grow up alone.

4. I will never have to worry about going bald, however, I began going gray when I was around nineteen. Twenty years later, that gray hair to black hair ratio is now about 1:5 and getting worse. By fifty, I should look like a Drow.

5. I love genre entertainment in any and every form: Books, movies, TV, games, etc. If it has monsters, ghosts, aliens, robots, space ships, dragons, wizards and all that kind of stuff, I just adore it. Doesn't matter what year it's from, what country it's from or how cheaply it was made, I love it all. Thus the reason why close friends and family have to pick their jaws up off the ground when I tell them how much I love Jane Austen.

6. I have a rather large collection of stuffed animals, mostly bears. People always assume they belong to my wife, but no, they are mine!

7. I really love animals. Except sharks. Of course that stems from a scary encounter I had with one back in my surfer days. If I was rich, I'd donate as much as a could to animal charities. I've owned numerous cats and dogs over the years, and while I have nothing against our feline friends, dogs just flat out rule.

Since this tagging thing has transpired while I was at work today, and since I live on the West coast and am the last to hear about anything, I am left with very few choices for further tagging. So I have decided tag you and you and you. Yes, you. And you two over there, stop doing that in public and consider yourselves tagged. Plus you and you. Go. Now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Something Fishy

So after staring at the monitor for a good portion of Saturday, considering and then tossing aside one idea after another for the Dead Bait anthology, I finally hit upon something that I felt could work. I hammered out the first bit and then hit the sack.

Today I awoke and after a quick trip to the store to replenish the groceries around here, I spent the rest of the day working on this story. It involved lots of online research into such things as Sperm Whales, crab species, the Farallon Islands, Coast Guard cutters and a few other odds and ends. The result? A story about a whale-watching tour that goes horribly, horribly wrong when some pissed off denizens of the deep decide the time has come to work together and hunt us. Right now I call the story Deadliest Cachalot. That may change. Maybe.

The one good thing about being so focused on this story was that I was not obsessing over The Transcendental Man. Now that Deadliest Cachalot has the first draft completed, I may turn my attention to something for the 2012AD anthology, before getting back to revisions on T-Man. Then in turn I can revise today's tale and whatever I turn out for 2012. That's the plan at least. Here's hoping.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


So word came down in the last couple hours that 26 year old Matt Smith has won the role of the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who. My first reaction upon hearing the name? "Who??!!" Yes, I have never heard of this guy. Then again I had never heard of David Tennant when he was announced as Doctor number ten and I stomped my feet in anger and denial when he revealed that he was leaving the show. 26 seems awfully young to play the venerable Time Lord, but I'm willing to give him a shot. I just hope Tennant goes out in style once the last of his special episodes airs.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rejection: 3, Acceptance: 1

So today when I got home there was a rejection waiting for me in the inbox from Ed at Strange Publications. I had submitted A Cause for Celebration (my zombie story without any actual zombies in it) to Sand: A Journal of Strange Tales. He passed on the story but did offer some positive feedback, saying he enjoyed the ending. The story was in limbo for about three minutes, then I submitted it to another market. Afterwards I went downstairs to watch TV with The Other Half, who is slowly recovering from her flu. I fell asleep on the couch and when I awoke, I came back up to the office to check emails. What should I find (besides a messy room)? An acceptance from Dustin at Micro 100 for my micro fiction piece Order Up that will appear in the second issue come February. So the day wasn't a total gloomfest. Since I submitted three micros and he only accepted one, I suppose that means I have three rejections for the day and only one acceptance.

I'm trying very hard to stay away from that first draft of The Transcendental Man (I'm still not sure about keeping that title). I'm itching to work on it, but have forced myself to only jot down any notes that occurred to me today. I want to approach it again after my giddy enthusiasm for it has died down and I can be (somewhat) more objective.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Time Will Tell

So I was looking over the Time's Edge Anthology guidelines when inspiration hit me. Years back I began a time travel story that I was never able to finish. Finding a way to connect everything in my head just never came together, so I never got beyond the first couple thousand words. Still, the idea has been floating around in my mind ever since and I decided to look it over again. This time it all came together quite nicely, causality violations and all. I realized that I would have to start from scratch, which I did, only keeping the first few paragraphs more or less as they were.

Then I sat down and started to write. And write. And write. The tale just poured out of me. There was never any moment when I had to sit and mull things over. I knew exactly where it was going and exactly what was going to happen at every moment. Talk about an awesome feeling. Too bad crafting a story couldn't always be like that! In the end, I churned out 5,000 words damn near, though I have to be honest and say it needs a serious revision in order to shine. I need to force myself to wait a few days before doing that, so I am not so attached to the things that are crap and believe me, right now its somewhat crappy. I tend to pound things out in order to get the ideas on paper and then go back later and make them clean and smooth to the best of my ability.

So this untitled tale (the original name was The Transcendental Man, but I'm not sure about keeping it) goes on the back burner for a few days or more. Tomorrow and over the weekend I will turn my attention to my idea for Dead Bait, which came to me the other day while driving around at work.


Yes, shamelessly stolen from P.J. Hoover via Carrie Harris, comes the 2009 reading list, where I shall attempt to conquer 50 books this year (none of them re-reads, which is easy cuz the last time I re-read a book was...hmmm...never).

This should actually be easy for me this year. As opposed to any time before 2008, I never really had the time to read as much as I would have liked. Then in November of 2007 I switched job positions at the company where I work. Rather than drive the big oil package truck, I now drive the big diesel/gasoline tanker truck. Surprisingly, this gives me a lot of time to read during the day while I wait in line at the terminal to load the truck or just waiting while pumping off at the delivery point - a situation not found when driving the package truck.

Now I am off to the doctor's office. The Other Half seems to be coming down with the flu, so I need to run her over to get some medication or something. Good thing the hospital is so close to the bookstore and Best Buy...two places I have gift cards for....