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No, it hasn’t been a writing day. However, I’m getting caught up on lots of other things today. Paperwork is already done for both “real” jobs. I finished the last of my Christmas shopping (and all of my Christmas shipping) just in time. Everyone else on the list is getting a homemade gift, which is ready to go but requires packaging. That’s just fine, as it can wait until just before the holiday to hand out. There’s still gift wrapping to be done all around, and some finalizing of plans for the day to still take place, but I’m effectively ready for Christmas.

And I went to go get my tires checked, because I’m an adult, and it’s winter, and I’m trying to be somewhat responsible about things. My car is far more content with me now, though, since I bought an outdoor extension cord for the engine block heater. No more cold starts!

I’m rewarding myself by going to see The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies and having dinner with forgottenmoon after work, and then maybe drinks at home. Because again. Adult.

December is halfway through, and it has brought with it the special sort of self-imposed hell that comes from working in retail during the holiday season. As such, my writing on here has dwindled to almost nothing but apologies for not having written more. I seem to get to write a lot of those. I don’t like it. Two posts a month is unacceptable.

Thank you, Lemongrab.

Thank you, Lemongrab.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It’s not that I didn’t care, because NaNo is another special sort of self-imposed hell, and I’m rather fond of those, or so it would seem. I’ve tried before (and managed upwards of 33,000 words out of the 50,000 goal), and I probably will again, but this was not the time.

A little over a year ago, I introduced a character named Kidd Raven in a short story. Originally designed for a pirate-themed D&D campaign, Kidd Raven quickly took hold in my head as one of the most complex characters I’d ever invented. Now the campaign has stalled a bit, with some of the players moving out of town (and others out of state), and it may be that it only ever continues via something along the lines of Storium. However, when you’ve got a good character, it’s really hard to let go. So, I’m going to be repurposing Kidd Raven, bringing the pirate’s swordsmanship and spellcraft into a non-Wizards of the Coast world. A few changes here and there, obviously, due to copyright issues and whatnot, and this could shape up to be a damn fun adventure. This is new story number one.

New story number two is one that I started on in September, when inspiration struck during Nan Desu Kan. It’s very difficult to come across an image like this and not be driven to write about it.

the-white-door

I mean, look at it. That’s gorgeous. Who’s the figure in the photo? Where does the door lead? That’s new story number two. I like where it’s going so far.

And of course, I plan to continue working on what I consider to be one of my most ambitious projects to date. This one’s a novella, at least in its planned form. I don’t want to say too much more about it right now, but it’s also been in the works for a while. It may or may not make its way here to the blog, whereas the other two stories are slated to appear here for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, I’m working on getting some more short pieces, poems, and reviews up here in the very near future. Thank you all for your continued readership.

There are doors leading through
This and every other life, and we
Cannot see beyond any of them.
All we can do is trust that a door
We have chosen to open leads
To another series of paths and
Choices, neither better nor worse
Than any we have made before.
A maze, perhaps, but one that
We all must tread, no matter the
Twists. Everyone must find their
Own way through it, though we
Might sometimes ask a fellow
Traveler which way they would
Suggest. All we can offer one
Another is advice. We cannot
Lead them down any one path.
If we are lucky, we might have
Companions by our side for a
Part of our journey. We may
Say goodbye along the way,
But if we’re lucky, our paths
Will cross again someday.

Election day has come and gone. I have mixed feelings about the results, but I’m feeling positive for Colorado overall. That’s about as political as I’m going to get here, at least as far as real-world politics go. However, it did get me to thinking about the concept of politics within fictional realms.

Some stories revolve almost entirely around political intrigue. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the most prominent examples of this today. With plot details inspired by The War of The Roses, among other things, ASOIAF is filled with characters who live for gain of power and wealth. They don’t care if they have to spy, steal, or murder to achieve it, and no one will stand in there way, neither kings nor innocent children.

Writers like Tom Clancy became famous for writing thrillers inspired by real-world political events, focusing on them in a modern setting. Drug wars, assassinations, and bids for the US presidency serve as the core for Clancy’s books. Events could easily be pulled from headlines and adapted to fit a plot, provided that it be done carefully.

How much sway should politics hold over your story? That’s really up to you. Do you want your piece to become an Author Tract, where it’s little more than a way to express your opinions via fictional characters? That’s okay, it can be done well. Do you want your piece to be critical of existing political systems in the real world? Or would you prefer to establish a new system as a thought experiment?

Frankly, I like the idea of trying all of them on for size, along with things that involve a complex world without getting into politics whatsoever. Developing a somewhat functional political system can be a fun part of world building, but be sure that you don’t let it overwhelm the story.

So, Horns was freaking amazing. Very much looking forward to the film adaptation’s eventual arrival at one of our local theatres. Also knocked out Andy Weir’s The Martian and John Scalzi’s Lock In. Not a bad month of reading so far. Toss in the handful of DC’s New 52 volumes I’ve gotten through, and the fact that I’ve finished all of season two of Arrow, and it’s been an awesome couple of weeks. Now it’s just the rest of October’s obligations left ahead of me. Namely, I get to make myself look like a Capitol resident. That’s right, Hunger Games fans. It’s almost time for a Colorado Capitol Couture fashion show.

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have considered taking part in this. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have said I had the confidence to go out on a catwalk to model clothes. This year’s NDK changed that. Couple that with my ever-improving skills in costuming, and you end up with me planning to model a costume of my own design. I promise that there will be pictures, because it’s going to be glorious. The only real question now is if I can stand to go with the crazy beard styling I’m planning long enough to wear the outfit for Halloween too, or if I’m going to do something equally ridiculous and fun instead.

Oh, yes. My favorite holiday is almost here too. Halloween is just over two weeks away. I’ve got a costume that’s nearly ready, and I would like to do it, but I’m probably going to have to have a backup plan for work that morning. That’s no problem, though. I fully expect to have one costume for work at the library and another for anything else I might end up doing. My patrons are used to seeing pirate me. Other cosplay me might freak them out a little. Plus I think we have a staff meeting that morning, sooooo… Gotta tone it down just a little. It’s my favorite holiday, though, and I’ve got to live it up.

As far as new short fiction goes, I promise there are still several that will be coming soon to a blog near you. This blog. I meant this one. Yeah. Stay tuned.

So, September totally got away from me. I had August under control, with bills paid early instead of on time, lots of writing done, and so on and so forth. September? Well, I thought I was ready, but looking back at the last four weeks, it’s pretty clear to me that I was not. So, a little recap to get back up to speed before I start dropping microfiction and poetry on you again.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending my sixth Nan Desu Kan. NDK is held in Denver every September, and was the very first convention I ever attended. My girlfriend and I have gone together every year, and as always, we had a fantastic weekend. There was cosplay (of course), meeting randomly with famous voice actors (hooray for encountering Sonny Strait several times over the course of his first ever trip to NDK), supporting local artists (Sariochan, thank you for coming back every year!), entering the balcony decorating contest for the first time, and great times hanging out with friends.

The rest of September was a great big blur. I finished reading Saladin Ahmed’s The Throne of the Crescent Moon, knocked out a bunch of comics I’d been working on reading (including the first trade edition of Pretty Deadly), and watched a lot of anime. I watched all of Gurren Lagann for the first time, dug through Death Note again, and started on Knights of Sidonia and Deadman Wonderland. I also finally saw the first season of True Detective (lots of mixed feelings on that one).

Now it’s October first. NaNoWriMo is weeks away. I’ve got a Colorado Capitol Couture fashion show to do a little design/modeling for before the end of the month, and lots to continue to read. It’s October. I’m going to read Horns. 

I’ll be back soon.

 

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th. Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

Magnet Poem #4

soft lips cry out with gentle
passionate bliss.
a boy entwined with
his goddess
always faithful through time
heaven and hell have
no power over his soul
for he has paradise
in her velvet embrace

 

 

 

 

Magnetic poetry copyright info can be found here.

A great man has left this world, and I need to take a moment to talk about him. His name was Theodore Jerry Baum, and he was my English teacher in my junior year of high school. Mr. Baum died almost a month ago. I’ve been trying to figure out how to memorialize him in a better way than the sadly lackluster obituary our local newspaper provided.

Like most of the kids my age, I met Mr. Baum long before I took a class with him. When you live in a small town, everyone knows everybody else. He taught English and Television Production at Holyoke High School. My first (and sadly only) class with Mr. Baum was my junior year of high school, and I’d been terrified of him. The man was a sort of urban legend, and he had a reputation, at least in my head, of teaching the hardest English class around. No nonsense. Strict, straitlaced. Or so it seemed.

After a while, though, I got to know him a little better. I learned that he loved German food, and that he delighted in playing practical jokes. When my independent study German group decided to have a German meal at school, I made brats and sauerkraut, brought a crock pot full, and let it simmer in my classroom all day. Mrs. Ortner’s room was right across the hall, and she made it quickly known that she HATED the smell of sauerkraut. Naturally, after sharing lunch with us, Mr. Baum took a cup full of sauerkraut and left it hidden in one of Mrs. O’s trashcans for the rest of the day.

He could move far faster than I ever would have thought possible for a man his age. One of his best pranks involved sneaking up on then-counselor Mrs. Vieselmeyer with an air horn, letting it off right next to her head. She spun around and would’ve likely knocked Mr. Baum into the next semester if he hadn’t jumped away.

On another day, I was walking through the library when a book fell from one of the shelves. As I bent to pick it up, another fell. I glanced up in time to see Mr. Baum hiding on the other side of the shelf, chuckling to himself as he pushed the books through onto my side.

As a junior, I participated in the district academic bowl. He was one of our moderators, and at one point in the evening, a question required the phrasing of a line from Oliver. Cue Mr. Baum singing “Consider yourself at home, consider yourself one of the family.”

No tribute to Mr. Baum would be complete without mentioning his cat, Brutus. There were several cats that he owned throughout the years I knew him, and each one, regardless of gender, was named Brutus. I never knew how many of them there were altogether, just that there was always one at a time, a constant companion for him.

He loved to garden during his retirement. He moved into a house down the street from my parents, one that had a lovely garden in the back that had been carefully tended for years by the previous resident. Many afternoons I could go for a walk and find him there, Huskers cap on his head, trowel in hand, continuing the work of maintaining the flowers and vegetables that were growing there.

I’ll never forget him. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I knew him better than most. That would be doing a great disservice to the many people whose lives he touched. I knew him. That was enough.

 

Today is August 13th, International Left Handers Day. To celebrate the joy of this day, I’m writing this post with only my left hand. It’s not as much of a challenge as I expected it to be, though I am having to look at the keyboard a lot more, rather than relying so much on muscle memory.

It’s a fascinating world I live in. I’ve been left handed my entire life, no thanks to my otherwise wonderful grandmother for telling my mother that it was something that needed to be “corrected right away.” I am the only lefty on my dad’s side of the family, and to my knowledge only one of my first cousins on mom’s side is left handed. I grew up with a left handed best friend, and in elementary school and junior high, his twin brother was the only boy in the class who could pitch against either of us in baseball.

I’m damn proud to be left handed. I’m going to go celebrate with beer from Left Hand Brewing Company.

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