My Knight In Fluffy Armor

Things My Cat Has Defended Me From

  • The drawstrings on my running shorts
  • His tail
  • Getting too comfortable in my office chair or the couch
  • Paper cuts (by sitting on the newspaper/magazine)
  • Being smothered by blankets (by smothering said blankets first)
  • Missing lunch
  • Unexciting walks past furniture under which he can hide

Things My Cat Has NOT Defended Me From

  • My Cat
Sir Tim Tam

Last Week of the New Year

January has been quite a writing month.  As it winds to a close, figured I’d share some of the fun bits.

• I’ve written a little over 17,000 words on Far Reach thus far and made huge progress on the outline.  The story is starting to come together in my head which means it’ll get onto paper a lot easier.

• Beta Readers are some of the awesomest people out there. If you are a writer, never forget that.

• I had a nightmare a few days ago.  It was quite disturbing and made for a restless night. I turned that around and laid out the basis for a possible novella entitled Favors.  The story, thus far, would be a hell of a lot darker than anything I’ve written before and there are a few scenes that actually make me uncomfortable.  Not sure when that will see the light of day but I look forward to trying.

• Some of my VP buddies have been linking to Five Things We Learned at Clarion, gathered by Ferret Steinmetz (of VP XIII).  Clarion is a 6 week, highly intensive workshop. Not likely I’ll ever attend that one – I can’t give up my life, wife, or job for six weeks.  There are some great quotes, but this is probably my favorite from Gra Linnaea:

Writing is not a competition.  Someone else’s genius doesn’t make you less genius.

• Today marks 50 days until Steph and I head to the United Kingdom.  Or as Steph calls it, 50 Days until the British Invasion.  I have waited for this trip ever since I first read about knights and castles.  There is a serious chance I shall not return to the States.

So I’d say the year has started off well.  Here’s to hoping it continues.

A Step Back is a Step Forward?

I had grand plans for today and from the start, things were looking up.  Write in the morning, go for a run, write for a few more hours, go to a movie with Steph, relax in the evening.   The ‘write in the morning’ and the ‘go for a run’ parts got accomplished.

As for the rest, well, I spent the afternoon and evening trying to fix Godzilla, the beast of a machine that is my primary computer.  It’s up and working again but to be honest, I’m still not positive as to what caused the original problem.  That does frighten me somewhat.

I do consider myself very fortunate.  I had done a complete backup of the computer a mere eight days ago and only a handful of files changed since then (all easily recoverable).  Even in a worst case scenario of having to reinstall in the entire operating system would prove to be more of an inconvenience rather than a disaster.  I’m knocking on wood that I won’t have to do that in the near future.

Still, I won’t lie – Given the hassle, I was considering abandoning Godzilla altogether.  Next computer?  Probably gonna be a typewriter.

I hear that Harlan Ellison is selling his for a mere $40,000.  And if it’s good enough for Snoopy, it’s good enough for me.

Reconsider Your Perspectives

Over the Christmas and New Years holidays, I spent a lot of time reading about space. I used to be heavy into astronomy when I was young but I felt I needed to do some brushing up before writing Far Reach.  What I learned forced me to reconsider my perspectives and I figured I’d share a bit of that with some visual aids from the Bad Astronomer :

The standard measurement in astronomy is the Light Year.  This is defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in one Earth year.  That distance, in more measurable terms, is 9,460,730,472,580.8 kilometers (or 5,878,625,373,183.608 miles).  All those commas mean that number is in the Trillions by the way.

So let’s put that into some perspective :

It takes light from the Sun about 8.3 minutes to reach the Earth, 93 million miles away.   Light seen tonight from Proxima Centauri, the nearest sun aside from our own Sun, left 4.2 years ago.  I was born 36 years ago, roughly the same time light from Alpha Bootis started its trip toward Earth.  And on a slightly larger scale, the galactic center of the Milky Way is just around the corner at a mere 27,000 light years (give or take a few thousand).

Let’s jump out a bit more and leave our galaxy.  The galaxy NGC 1345, pictured below, is about 85,000,000 light years away. The dinosaurs  stomping around on Earth at the time probably didn’t appreciate that smudge of light in the sky.

Courtesy the Bad Astronomer blog

Go ahead and click on the picture to enlarge and take a look.  You’ll probably notice a few other galaxies.  Those are even further away.  Hundreds of millions, even billions of light years distant.  The light from some of these galaxies may have left before the Earth even finished cooling down.  And take a look at this – the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (pictured below) shows galaxies that are 13 billion years old.  The universe itself is thought to be right around 14 – 15 billion.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

And a final perspective – one of the greatest endeavors of Mankind was to land on the Moon.

A mere 1.3 light seconds away.

The Moon

So yeah.  Space is big.

Not A Figurehead

Despite popular belief, I have not been kidnapped by my cat and established as the figurehead of a small European nation he overthrew earlier this week.

I mean, seriously, who would believe that?  My cat would never expend the energy to travel all the way to Europe.  Heck, he won’t even overthrow Minnesota.

I am, however, still alive and kicking though rather busy.

  • Wrote rough drafts of the first three chapters of Far Reach
  • Sent copies of Genie Memories out to six beta readers
  • Reviewed Catherine Schaff-Stump’s Hulk Hercules over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing
  • Survived a bout with Kitten Flu, the virulent strain of sickness that infected both Steph and I for the whole first week of the year and turned each of us into whimpering blobs jockeying for position on the couch
  • Made major in-roads in planning our trip to the UK in March

Not too bad for January so far.

Swimming in the Money

Q – “You finished the book?  Great!  When are you going to quit your day job?”

A – “Not anytime soon!”

Not An Accurate Representation

There’s a common misconception that writers make a lot of money.  I’m not sure why that exists.  Ever hear the term ‘starving artist’?  It applies to us writers as well.  To quote a book my wife recently read – “You can make a lot of money being writer as long as your name includes the words “Stephen” and “King”.”

Over at his blog, author Jim C Hines talks about his 2010 income as a writer.  The same entry contains links back to 2007 on the same subject.  Hines is a successful writer with a couple of popular series in print.  And despite being considered a success in the publishing field, he’s keeping that day job of his.  The entry makes it clear why and why I will most likely be working for years to come.

(Link poached from VP buddy Steve Buchheit.  Thanks Steve!)

Starting Off All The Wrong Ways

I had a dentist appointment this morning.  Normally, this alone would put me in a state of terror induced shivering that would take weeks to shake (my fear/hatred of dentists is the stuff of legends).  Today, however, my dentist decided to up the ante and informed me that I have a cavity.  I consoled myself with a chocolate chip cookie.

While home over lunch, a container of chia seeds launched itself out of the cabinet and attacked Steph.  Who the hell wants those things for a pets anyway?

The sore throat I had this morning erupted into full blown sickness that I happily shared with Steph.  She’s under the impression that we are infected with Kitten Flu, as the only sick beings we’ve had contact with lately have been a bunch of kittens at a friend’s house.  I’m too tired to provide a smart ass retort, proving just how sick I am.

The year 2011 has not started off quite the way I wanted it to.

In The Future

It is 2011 and I still do not have a flying car or my own jet pack.  I am highly disappointed in the future.

This is normally the blog entry where I’d put up my New Year’s resolutions but let’s be honest – those generally last until something shiny comes along and distracts me and they fizzle out.  Plus this way I don’t have to feel bad if I don’t fulfill those resolutions.

What is not fizzling is my writing and I’ve started the New Year off right on that front.

So far, I’m about 500 words into the next novel which I am tentatively calling Far Reach.  This novel is also sci-fi but it’s going to be a lot more futuristic involving space, aliens, and all the assorted stuff that comes with that.  I’ve had to do a lot more research which is a ton of fun but also dangerous as I tend to get sucked into that.  Fortunately, I have a fairly solid outline for Part One which should keep pushing me forward.  And of course, I’m repeating the mantra – “It’s a draft.  It can suck.”

I’ve also started sending out requests for Beta Readers on Genie Memories and gotten two thus far – my brother Jon and my friend Chris are both willing to read.  Neither of them has seen the story before (except for a paragraph here or there) so I’ll be pleased to see their reactions.   Then I can start sending out to agents and publishers.

Yeah, query letters.  I am so looking forward to that.