Pitchforks and torches

I’m just a bit shy of 70,000 words for The Ship Finding God, and I’m expecting this:

or this:

which, yes, I know, no one expects.

That’s because I am addressing creation and existence in a manner that, well, doesn’t coincide with popular teachings. Not that I’ve got the answers, mind you, just some rather oblique views. And, no, nothing outlandish:


I’m still figuring another 10,000 words or so before it’s done, but that should go rather fast. I’m seeing my way clear. Then, you can judge.

Just not so harshly. Please.

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The Adventures of Gracie the Wander Cat: Indignities

So, there I was, minding my own business:

when snatch, grab,

and shoved inside the trunk of a car:

I’ve got a real bad feeling about this.

Got thrown in some outside waiting line. With these guys:

I am not happy.

Then, some clown in a smock reaches in, yanks me out by the neck and shivs me. I fly back so fast into the cage that I manage to bend the needle, but the guy who stabbed me said it was okay, the vaccine got in.

Okay? You think this was okay?

Got home, and that Krauss guy offered up some treats but, you know what?

Screw you.

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High. Ate. Us.

Not really. More like Dis. Tracted. From The Ship Finding God.

My editor at Rebel E Publishers, affectionately known as Jayne the Impaler, is in the midst of whipping Tu’an into shape. We had quite the lively discussion about the Britanization of certain words. See, I think that certain words should retain their Brit spelling: armour, smoulder,  etc., you know, that quite unnecessary “u.” Seems to me that it conveys the better sense of the word. I mean, armour is a tank; armor is a dog food company. But she, being an editor, demands consistency. The nerve.

Anyways, Tu’an is coming along nicely because Jayne is, well, good. For example, she pushed me to add  a little teaser at the end to give the two or three of you reading the series a bit of a come-on. So I did. No, it’s not the first chapter of the third book of the trilogy, which shall be named Colm, but something…else. You’ll see. That is, if Jayne lets it pass.


Not that Ship Finding has been lying around eating cold pizza or anything. We’re up to 65,000 words now, and I’m still projecting about 75,000 to 85,000 to finish it. Maybe 95,000, ’cause there’s some things happening. Like the Suits showing back up. Couldn’t just leave those guys circling the dark world, now could I?

Stay tuned.

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I didn’t do a pumpkin this year because none grew in my garden. The few plants that survived the Night of the Woodchucks didn’t bloom. Well, they bloomed, but produced no fruit. Suspect a dearth of honeybees caused that. And butterflies. Didn’t see hardly any of either all summer. Think it’s time to install a beehive in the backyard.

At any rate, I did grow some pretty good corn, and the stalks were lying around doing nothing, so:

Not bad. Enough to give the unwary ‘treaters a chill or two, so turned on the porch light, filled up the candy dish, and waited.

And waited.

And….no one. Just the kid next door, who ended up getting half the candy dish. And it was good stuff, Hershey Bars and things.  No jellybeans and toothbrushes from me, nosireebob.

Guess I shoulda had a pumpkin.


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Let’s play!

I love board games. I’ve got probably fifty or so, mostly tactical and strategic kinds like Squad Leader and Wooden Ships and Iron Men. I have a lot of the old Avalon Hill titles and some modern ones, like Fortress America, and several Lock ‘n Load‘s like Heroes of the Pacific and Eisenbach Gap. Board games are one of my many weaknesses: I can’t pass a game store or a game booth at a convention without buying something. So when Dave Fisher, owner of Your Hobby Place, one of the best game stores in the Shenandoah Valley (if not the US), let me know they were having another block party, I had to go.

I did one with them last year, and it was a hoot, buncha fun folks running around listening to a local band and eating. This was pretty much the same,

except it was actually a benefit to help pay the medical expenses of a local family.

My set up:

Last year it was hotter than Hades. This year it was windier than the floor of Congress. Two struts on my canopy snapped, and I had a lot of fun (a) keeping the whole thing from falling down on me and/or (b) blowing away. Who said writing isn’t hazardous?

Lots of truck traffic. From the truly terrifying:

to the not-so:

The band, Quasi Flannel:

Those guys are good.

I ran into Angela Souders and J.M. Dean, two of the coolest people in America, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure to make during ID4Con. I’d post pictures but, of course, my camera batteries crapped out. Who said writing isn’t hazardous?

It was a pretty successful event, raising over $3000 for the family. Glad to be a part of it.

I broke tradition and did not buy a game. Did buy a comic book, though.

Black Bolt. Cool.

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Stalking Alastair Reynolds

I have been an Alastair Reynolds fan ever since I picked up Revelation Space and got my mind blown. Man, you gotta read the series. Just gotta. So when I heard that he was the Guest of Honor at CapClave 2015, I had to go. Had to.

CapClave is not your run-of-the-mill scifi convention. There’s no cosplay, no girl-on-girl vampire action (at least not that I could discern), no TV or movie stars. It’s fans of scifi coming together under the behest of the Washington Science Fiction Association to celebrate the literary. It is refined, elevated, and intelligent. Why they let me in, I have no idea.

One slight drawback to it: the guests and panelists and a lot of the attendees were writers. Now, you may not have noticed this, but writers are a rather egotistical bunch. Any human being who believes their particular method of placing words on paper is excellent enough to attract readers and their hard-earned money is already in trouble. Add the particular geekery that goes with science nuts and, Holy Hannah, the validation needs were off the Richter scale. There were a few occasions I was downright cringing over the one-upsmanship and discourtesy some panelists and audience members displayed. But, hazards of the job.

And I got to hang out with Alastair Reynolds.

Well, I mean, it’s not like we were hoisting brewskis and exchanging phone numbers or anything, but I got to hear him quite a bit, including a presentation he gave about Mars in science fiction. The guy was an astronomer, so knows his stuff. He was on panels I attended like Democracy in Space (conclusion: there won’t be any), Generation Starships (there won’t be any), and Near Future Science Fiction (there’s plenty, but it gets outdated quickly).But, the best of all, I got to have coffee with the guy.

Sort of.

It was billed as a Kaffeeklatch and there were 10 other people there and you had to get your own coffee which I couldn’t because the line was too slow (a satellite Starbucks with one employee and about six Niles Crane types in front of me) and Mr. Reynolds had tea (it’s a Brit thing, you wouldn’t understand) so it wasn’t exactly coffee nor was it one on one. But, it was still great. Mr. Reynolds is charming and erudite and approachable and the conversation was informal and fun and ranged from his current collaboration with Stephen Baxter to binary stars and X-ray databases. Very cool.

Later, I got him to sign my copy of Chasm City, and even managed to slip him one of my buttons without looking too much like a helplessly geeky and desperate fan boy. Not too much.

Tell ya, even without Grandmaster Reynolds, Capclave was fantastic. I got to meet Allan Wold, Edward Lerner, Neil Clarke (of Clarkesworld fame, who is just the best guy), Walter Hunt, Jean Marie Ward, Mike McPhail, Barbara Krasnoff:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:

and Scott Edelman, who I’d met at AwesomeCon. I got to admire Catharine Asaro, Gordon van Gelder, Bud Sparhawk, and James Morrow from afar. And, to complete my name-dropping, I noted that an old friend from my Backspace days, Alma Katsu, was attending, but I never ran into her.

Going back next year. With, or without, Alastair Reynolds.

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Let’s Do the Time Warp Again…

I went to MonsterMania again this year. It was in the same place, the Hunt Valley Inn. I set up my table in exactly the same spot:

right next to the same guy, Tj O’Connor:

Deja vu all over again, and I immediately suspected a time fold of some kind, except there were subtle differences. Tj and I had a new book each, f’rinstance. Abby showed up as expected, but, this time, not in costume. And, she added Dalton:

Captain Mango was there, but this time with the quite lovely Jenny Jannetty:

Damn photobombers.

The quite lovely Jenna Manson showed up, sans bunny mask:

We love Jenna. Bunny mask or no.

Even some of the costumes were the same. Here’s a group from last year:

Same group this year:

Okay, so, Sam is different, but, c’mon.

These guys from last year:

are these guys this year:

Bigger cleaver, but still.

Now, there were new cosplayers:

(By the way, she’s a nurse. Imagine waking up from a coma and she’s changing your IV…)

including the Killer Queen, who’s quite the guy…gal…whatever:

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had been here before. Even in the bar Saturday night. Last year, it was girl-on-girl vampire action. This year, there were untoward activities, but different, such as floggings. And wrestling matches. I got bulldogged by the lovely Jenny, who can bulldog me anytime she wants to:

Damn photobombers.

I guess I’ll have to go again next year to verify if this is, indeed, some kind of warp thing. And get a rematch.

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Five days later…

I survived Lost Weekend IV. Not many did. It was grueling: 18 movies over a three.2 day period. Figure hour forty-five, give or take, each, comes out to be 28, 29 hours of movies over a 72 hour period. It’s like going to a party on Friday night and getting home sometime around 4:00 am Sunday. Yeah, I know, that describes some of y’all’s normal weekends, but I’m old. And all I had was coffee to sustain me. And peanuts.

The rest of the movies:

1. 1001 Grams. Apparently there are groups of scientists around the world who take their kilos seriously. This is a story about one of them, a Norwegian ice princess whose life is slipping away, one gram at a time.

2. Queen of Earth. Put two crazy, vindictive, envious, and self-destructive women together in a lakeside cabin for the summer, and you get this movie. Actually pretty chilling, and extremely well written.

3. The Winding Stream. A documentary about the Carter family, who pretty much started country music. On Mexican radio.

4. The Keeping Room. This was billed as a feminist Western, but it’s not: it’s a monster movie. Trust me on this. Really liked it, but the ending was a little strange. I don’t see how Confederate uniforms are going to help in this situation.

5. Meru. I don’t get mountain climbing, so this documentary left me somewhat cold (ha. ha. ha.). It was beautifully shot and quite exciting, especially an avalanche that no one should have survived (but did,) still…you guys ever heard of helicopters?

6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I was somewhat dreading this one because of The Fault in our Stars, but Me and Earl is light years above and beyond Fault. Wait until you see A Sockwork Orange.

7. Turbo Kid. This movie is fun. Complete and utter silly over-the-top 80′s style scifi with some of the best eviscerations on film. Grab your gnomesticks and let’s go.

8. The Prophet. Wonderful animation, great music, but it needed a grenade launched at it. What a load of fatuous crap. I’m pretty certain the Democrat National Committee wrote the script. And if there is any kid deserving of a public caning, it’s Seagull Girl.

9. Finders Keepers. Movies like this is why you need a film club, because there is no way in hell that I would have watched this documentary about a dismembered leg on my own. But, boy, am I glad they showed it. It was outstanding, filled with f*uckery and shenanigans, and you have to watch it. You just do. Any faith you have in humanity will be quickly dispersed. I have now added two more towns to my “Must be Nuked” list.

10. Manhattan Shorts. These films are the finalists selected for the Manhattan Short Film Festival. They were all pretty good, except for Sundown, which made no sense to me at all. The best was Bis Gleisch, a German film about two old people watching the world go by their windows.

11. Mojave. A thriller, but you really don’t care who kills who.

12. Phoenix. A standout. The best movie of the weekend and one that should win Best Foreign Film. It has the most perfect ending I have seen in years.

13. Cooties. Film Club’s nomination for the next quote-along movie. Nap time, mofos.

14. Amy. I was never an Amy Winehouse fan, and this documentary made me even less of one. I have a rather cold and unsympathetic view of successful, talented people who blithely self-destruct. Despite the strenuous efforts of the filmmakers, ain’t no one’s fault but hers.

15. A Hard Day. What a crazy-ass movie, with one of the best fight scenes ever filmed. Ya know, it’s just easier to be an honest cop. It just is.

16. People Places Things. This, by contrast, has the worst fight scene ever filmed, but deliberately so and you’re supposed to laugh. You’re supposed to. If you want to see all the best parts of this movie, just watch the trailer. I think a subtitle could be: The First World Problems of Weak-Assed People Who Never Really Did Anything Except Annoy Each Other, with Cute Kids.

17. The End of the Tour. Basically a tongue bath between writers because you know, writers, they’re so introspective and tortured and reflecting on things and brilliant and tortured (did I say tortured already?) and if you could all just understand us. Them, I mean. Great dialogue, but you expect that.

A deep, reverent bow of thanks to our leader, Andy Gyurisin, a force of nature who should be harnessed to power plants throughout the country. The lights would never go out.

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And So it Begins…

Lost Weekend IV, that is, which opened tonight with:

In. Tense.

Michael Shannon plays a man without a soul while Andrew Garfield plays a man trying to find one. Gotta say, I had far more sympathy for Rick Carver, the satanic realtor portrayed by Shannon, then I did for Garfield’s amiable loser, Dennis Nash. That is, until a certain boundary was crossed.

At that point, fuggiddabodit.

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Busy, busy, busy…

Not only do I have 4000 pages to read in…now…about three days (see below), Winchester Film Club’s Lost Weekend IV starts tomorrow night. I’m going to see eighteen movies over four days.

Death by media.

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