Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, Drowned In Moonlight Strangled By Her Own Bra

I have a eulogy over at my other blog, but DAMN YOU 2016 this has been a nasty year for losing generational celebrities and cultural mainstays.

Carrie Fisher passed away this morning.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Witty's Year End Book Review 2016

To the many readers following this awesome blog - okay, eight of you plus the Chinese and Russian Spammers who keep hitting this web address 34 times every 4 hours, what the hell - it's time again for a review of the works I've read and which I want to say Damn THIS is Good Give It A Try.

As always, the rules are 1) It's not what's new that I've read, merely something I've read this year that counts. It could be a book from 1978 of my youth I've revisited for some reason. 2) It's something you ought to get at your local library (SUPPORT ALL LIBRARIES WOOT).

So, that said, here's the list for 2016.


Angelmass, Timothy Zahn

Already a fan of Zahn's work on the Star Wars literary 'Verse (shunted off now that it mostly conflicts with the Disney control of LucasFilm), I picked up this work for ebook reading a few years ago and spent some time here and there perusing it.

Zahn sets up a galaxy-spanning human empire (Pax) in conflict with another race in the Seraph solar system that has developed a bizarre new technology: harvested materials ejected from a Black Hole - yes, it's possible - that are used to create "angels", baubles that compel the wearer to be honest and virtuous. The moral implications alone are staggering, but Zahn's main characters - sent to confirm the science (and to justify Pax sending a warship to destroy the Seraph system) - also have to cope with the truth behind Angelmass, along with the ramifications of a galaxy-wide war that would erupt should their own Pax armada succeed in starting (not finishing) the impending war.

Where Zahn impresses me is with the creative and memorable characters he creates for his works: their interactions throughout most of the stories he writes make his stuff enjoyable reads. This one isn't as good as his Thrawn Trilogy, but as a stand-alone Sci-Fi novel it's a solid work.


Pragmatism, William James

While I'm not a fan of -isms (per my political blogging), I still recognize that I have a world-view and that I have to find some way to cope with it all. As such, I'm really getting into reading up on Pragmatism as a philosophy, and I've been reading the works of William James over the last three-four months.

What I'm getting into with James' take on Pragmatism: He argues about Reality in which you have to deal with matters of fact (not so much Truth Of Opinion but Truth of Fact), with ideas that must relate to each other, and that these truths must lead us to useful consequences (that Pragmatism must lead to practical, long-term solutions). As a librarian who performs research into facts, and works on goal-oriented projects, I get the feeling I've been playing by these rules most of my life.

I'm still in the middle of reading this stuff, but if I had to ever go with an -Ism to follow I'm gladly buying into this.


Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Granted, I'm a fan of Coates' political and historical writings already, but I'm now a fan of his fiction writing in the comic book literary style. (and DAMN, he's living the dream doing it...)

As part of a Marvel Universe reboot, the company granted Coates the chance to start a new series of one of the major African (American) superheroes in their roster. What Coates did was re-establish Black Panther's political and cultural legacy, by questioning the role T'Challa has as both king and guardian of a powerful African nation now beset by uprising and turmoil. Dragging in the real-world problems that Africa has with terrorism, human trafficking and human rights, and political animosities across borders, Coates tweaked a place with a comic-book history (he's notably building off the work done famously by Christopher Priest) by giving it a genuine conflict that can't be easily resolved within six issues of a monthly release. Coates is signed up for twelve issues (of which 8 is out and this graphic novel collecting the first part of the story arc), so it'll be interesting how he wraps this up.


Death Vigil Volume I, Stjepan Sejic

Okay, I'm cheating a bit here by going with another graphic novel, but the rule is "someone I email, tweet, or chat with on a regular basis," and I've kinda tweeted enough times with him - "you did WHAT? With a WHAT?! To a WHAT?!?!" - regarding his other work Sunstone that this qualifies (I kid: I have no problem with (expletive deleted) being used as part of (unusually detailed sexual shenanigans), just as long as it doesn't harm any Presbyterian choirs...!).

Death Vigil, from what I gathered about his working on the project, is more of a personal labor of love for Sejic than anything else. Drawing from his work with Witchblade and on the shared geek concept of Eldritch monsters, Sejic creates a world where death is only part of our problems. Your soul can get used and abused even after you die, and your best chance for your soul to survive is with a team of Knights who work as Reapers/Monster-fighters. Introducing us via a recent cult victim's entry to the ranks of these Knights, we meet a rather lively (pun intended) group of dead people, who are facing a dire threat from humans working with demonic forces to seize the weaponry of these Knights in a mad attempt to cheat death itself.

What makes DV fun amidst the terror is how Sejic creates memorable, interactive characters that we can root for. In particular, he introduces us to Mia an otherwise happy-go-lucky preteen girl who just happens to be a Lovecraftian monster outside of her human form (who's still happy-go-lucky even as she's devouring her enemies).

While Sejic is tied up with other projects - he's capped Sunstone at five volumes but now working on related spin-offs - he's still eager to give Death Vigil one more volume to finish off the ideas he's got in that 'Verse. You ought to give Volume I a serious look.


Strangely Funny III, Mystery & Horror LLC

If you'll recall an earlier submission to Strangely Funny, I wrote a story "I Must Be Your First" about a vampire coping with the problem of Hunters ruining his morning. Coming off from that, building on a 'Verse where I have rules about what vampires really are and about the other supernatural elements they cope with, I submitted this little tidbit "Minette Dances with the Golem of Albany." Sort of a prequel set in 1985 where a vampire (actually a dhampyr, a half-human blood drinker) spends a night dancing (kind of) with a Golem sent to kill her. I had fun messing with the rules of Golems as much as with vampires, and set up how a Golem is actually the perfect opponent against otherwise unstoppable vampires (vamps can't drink from a Golem, and Golems are stronger and more unstoppable than vampires).

I chose having the Golem come from Albany Georgia because 1) Georgia is known for the red clay, and clay is a good material for Golems and 2) that's my birth city. Yay.

I haven't seen as many reviews for my story, nor for the anthology, but I hope my readers here pick up the book and give it good thumbs up, please and thank you.

Shill shill shill. ;-)


Friday, December 9, 2016

All I Want This Saturnalia

Just these three things:

1) Sanity in my life
2) Focus on my writing projects
3) 50 million readers

That's not too much to ask, right?

Io Saturnalia!!!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Keep Hitting Me With a Trout Until I Publish My NaNo Novel, Okay?

Look, I got to 60,000 words on my novel but I really need to actually FINISH THIS BABY for once, so I need the motivational.

And that motivational should take the form of a copy editor with a shotgun and an egg timer. 'Cause apparently I only really work well with deadlines.

So keep hitting me every day, will ya? Just remind me I got a novel to finish, and I'll get it finished.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016: Writing, Pokemon Dittos, and Kamikaze Turkeys

Getting the winner banner is one thing.

Getting a novel truly finished and published is the one goal I haven't crossed yet.

Gotta catch 'em all!

No, wait, that's the Pokemon Go game. They're running a special Double XP this Pagan Turkey Sacrifice Day, and unleashed a rare Pokemon called Ditto:

Ditto hides disguised as low-value Pokemon, so that Rattata you've been ignoring could actually be a Ditto. So you kinda have to catch everything you can now to add up the Dittos.

And, as this is a Pagan Turkey Sacrifice Day, let us honor the greatest ritual of mass kamikaze turkey genocide we ever saw:


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: Getting to 50000 Words And More to Go

Getting to the 50,000 word marker is relatively easy if you've gotten things plotted out, you've gotten the characters lined up, and you avoid the pitfalls of painting yourself into corners that you didn't expect.

I'm hitting the 50,000 finish line a lot earlier than usual as well. Got a full week left of the NaNo campaign to get more of the bits and pieces I've got floating around here.

Next thing up is actually finishing the NOVEL ITSELF - something I haven't done in any previous effort. If I can focus on THAT...

Then I can worry about hiring somebody for the cover art. ;-)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Problem About NaNoWriMo? It Makes Me Think

If anybody else writing NaNo ever runs into this as a problem...

See, writers have ideas. Ideas we want to express as either stories or essays.

Once I start writing on something - a story or a blog article or other project - a plot idea or some form of insight suddenly pops up that I can incorporate into what I'm working on.

Unless the idea doesn't fit. Then all of a sudden I have a plot idea or a topic worth discussing that I can't put aside lest I forget about it.

So I find myself going off on tangents, dancing away from the novel/story project I'm on and typing away on an unrelated project.

For example, I'm supposed to be working on my superhero origins novel for NaNo right now. However, I've suddenly got myself thinking about Pragmatism as an American philosophy and musing over the need to write up some amateur proto-philosophical chapters/articles before I lose track of THAT thought.

This is one of the reasons why I've never really finished a full book. Hell, there's an idea on writing up a History of 20th Century Jamaica still sitting in a box in my closet.

Get me back on track, fellow writers. Remind me I gotta finish this NaNo first and foremost.

I can just tag the journal articles and books on James, Pierce and Dewey for later.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

Heading Into the Weekend NaNo 2016

The weekend is usually where you can find extra time to get some writing done on your NaNo draft.

Just don't forget to ignore some of the real-world necessities like:

1) Feed your cats
2) Clean up after your cats
3) Do laundry
4) Fold laundry before cats get into it
5) Feed cats again
6) Call parents to let them know you haven't disappeared into the swamps
8) Feed yourself
9) Don't lose track of anything you might forget
10) Feed cats one more time

You can still fit in a few hours of writing in all that. Somewhere.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Start writing 50,000 words, people, it'll be a novel you can love and respect once you finish the editing process!

Join me here at the forums for more, and follow us on Twitter at #LakelandNaNo


Monday, October 31, 2016

Anniversary with Ocean the Wiggle Cat

Today is the three-year anniversary for me when it comes to my tuxedo kitteh Ocean.

Back in 2013, on Halloween eve without any trick-or-treaters knocking at my apartment door, instead I had gotten a tiny mewling and hungry kitteh, who quickly bonded to me and pretty much wiggled her way into my heart.

My first pet cat Tehya had just passed away a few weeks before, leaving me heartbroken and not entirely sure I could care for another cat. But Wiggles insisted on being my kitteh, so by Thanksgiving time - which is another sad anniversary time because that's when Page's skin cancer got worse back in 2011 and... and... - I took the effort to bring this new tuxedo kitteh to a vet for a checkup and adoption as Ocean.

And of course that all led to baby kittehs, and keeping Mal the Crazy Cat, and dealing with hissing fights between Ocean and Mal the last few weeks, and...


But then Ocean hops up on my chest and purrs away and wriggles back and forth looking for rubs and I find myself content.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pokemon Go Busts Out the Ghosts for Halloween

A lot of online games will post a special update to their code to have Halloween-themed special events. City of Heroes did Trick-Or-Treating door events and special Monster spawns, and man do I miss those...

Anyway, Pokemon Go with their first year of existence is hosting a themed event where they upped the spawn rate of the Ghost, Night, and Memserizing-type Pokemon for capturing. This means a high uptick in Ghastlys, Haunters, Zubats, Drowsees, and Pidgeys. Yes. There will ALWAYS BE PIDGEYS. Get used to it.

They're also doubling the Candy drops per capture so that you get six candies instead of three, which helps towards evolving or training the Pokemon you're capturing. Sadly, they are not dropping enough Lapras or Squirtle candies along with it. :(

So... just a reminder kiddos. GOTTA CATCH ALL THEM GHOSTS.

Just DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS... wait, wrong ghost-themed gaming...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I Love It When Libraries Offer to be NaNo Write-In Locales

Just a huge shout-out to

Lakeland Public Library

Winter Haven Public Library

Lake Wales Public Library

Haines City Public Library

and my own Bartow Public Library

for hosting various Write-Ins throughout the month of November for my fellow NaNoWriMo authors for the USA:Florida:Lakeland region.

Just wanna note the Lake Wales Library was very helpful in some background research about the local citrus industry when I wrote my story "Snipe Hunt" for my anthology Last of the Grapefruit Wars!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I've Decided To Write Again in my Superhero 'Verse for NaNoWriMo 2016

Gonna try it again, maybe this year I'll get something pieced together for my Talents superhero 'verse that will be coherent and readable.

So, here we go again kids for NANOWRIMO!

Join me at the Lakeland region! The link is at http://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-florida-lakeland

Calendar of Write-Ins:

Tuesday, November 1
NaNoWriMo First Day
KickOff Write-In @ Books A Million

Wednesday, November 2
Write-In @ Lakeland Public Library

Thursday, November 3
Write-in @ Winter Haven Library

Writing Group @ Just Costumes Rentals and Sales

Saturday, November 5
Write-in @ Panera Bread Winter Haven

Sunday, November 6
Write-In @ Books A Million Lakeland

Monday, November 7
Write-In @ Lake Wales Public Library

Thursday, November 10
Writing Group @ Just Costumes Rentals and Sales

Sunday, November 13
Write-In @ Books A Million Lakeland

Tuesday, November 15
NaNo Write-In @ Bartow Public Library

Wednesday, November 16
NaNo Write-In @ Lakeland Writers meeting

Thursday, November 17
Write-in @ Winter Haven Library

Writing Group @ Just Costumes Rentals and Sales

Saturday, November 19
Write-In @ Haines City Library

Sunday, November 20
Write-In @ Books A Million Lakeland

Tuesday, November 22
Write-In @ Lake Wales Public Library

Saturday, November 26
Write-in @ Winter Haven Library

Sunday, November 27
Write-In @ Books A Million Lakeland

Wednesday, November 30
NaNo Write-In @ Bartow Public Library

Hope to see some of you writing away this November!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Prepping for NaNoWriMo 2016

Okay, so National Novel Writing Month is officially every November, which is now NEXT MONTH.

That means a few things:

1) the NaNoWriMo website resets itself.

2) I need to submit a proposed book idea and proposed cover (optional, but fun to have).

3) The Lakeland FL Region will reset, which means I got to start managing the threads and the notes and the Calendar again!

4) I really need to come up with a good book idea this time.


For all the times I've NaNo'ed, I've yet to complete a "finished" work past the 50,000 word count. The remainders that follow in my wake are - upon re-evaluation - a bit messy even before the need for actual revisions to where I'm almost embarrassed by them.

I need to - NEED TO - come up with an idea I know I can follow up to its conclusion. I'd REALLY like to get one of these things honest-to-God done.

So, a quick poll to anybody willing to leave a comment. Should I write:

1) A fiction novel, focusing on the Talents superhero 'verse I've been working on?

2) A non-fiction novel of political ranting - which I kinda do anyway - during what will be the most anxiety-riddled election month in recent memory?

Please let me know what you think.

And get ready to NANO people! Word Sprints start in 27 days!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stat Tracking That Worries Me, September 2016 Edition

My blog keeps getting pinged for 30 views every 4 hours.

No articles read. Just views of the general web address. And it's always 30 views.

I'm pissing off Canada or Russia again, aren't I? Or is it those Chinese commentators, back to find out if I ever published more superhero novellas?

The world is after me now.

Just buy my damn books, you spammers. It's the least you can do.

Update: Oh no.

It's gone up to 31 views every 4 hours.

Revision to the Update: It's gone back down to 30 views.

Look, this is weird and unsettling and I'm worried somebody's trying to break into my blog account. If anybody knows how to filter this out so that the only ones I get are the Internet surfers looking to buy my books, please tell me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Covers Are Always Important

As part of teaching self-publishing - more specifically e-Publishing - one of the things I urge is the need to get a book cover lined up before you're ready to publish.

Well, first thing is obviously the book itself needs to be done, edited, corrected, spell-checked, etc. The second thing is the cover.

The book cover is what catches the potential reader's eye. It has to relate to the book's genre or topic. It has to be legible, visible, with a contrast of shadows to light that would not force people to go all cross-eyed glaring at it.

If you're a good graphic designer with effective photo editing tools (Photoshop, cough) then you don't have to worry much. If you're not that good (guilty look here) you ought to go shopping for one.

Depending on the type of book, there are places online you can shop. I've looked at several, tried some pretty expensive artistic ones - had to, for my superhero-themed books - and now I'm looking at the cost-effective ones.

There's a pretty decent marketplace site called Fiverr.

It works like a marketplace where the graphic artist posts their willingness to work on projects for a certain fee. They start as low as $5 - which is a boon for poor struggling self-publishers - and then charge a fee for additional costs. Throw in a tip at the end and you can be getting a book cover costing you around $20. Not too shabby.

An excellent part of the program is the time limit option: you can find graphic artists willing to get this done within a day. Which - if you're pressed for time focusing on a looming release date - can help get at least one thing taken care of while waiting on the rest.

Just to note, I did hire someone on Fiverr name of leahdesign, and she did good work so if anyone else is looking, check with her.

Good luck with your writings, everybody. And don't forget, NaNo is almost one month away!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

These Are the Voyages of the Starship Lollipop

It's a Good Ship...

Actually, this should be a moment of incredible geek-out, but also a signal of DAMN WE'RE GETTING OLD:

This is the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Star Trek (aka The Original Series).


...no, no, that's sexist.


Damn, that's discriminatory towards hive-mind races.


I think I've explained before how Trek has been not only a major force within the genre of Science Fiction - not just film and television but also literature, and some of the best writers have been part of it - but the series is one of the great American cultural milestones.

When most Americans think Sci-Fi they will think of Star Trek (or Star Wars, or hell mix up the two). Everyone knows who Vulcans are (SPACE ELVES). We just shifted from our phones looking like the Original Series comm units (flip phones) to our phones looking like Next Generation PADD tablets (there are apps to make your smartphones look at act like TNG screens!). When we joke about breaking speed limits on the highway, we measure it by Warp Speed ("Musta been doing Warp 90 back there on the goat road, Junior.")

Looking back 50 years ago, it seems quaint how a TV show that struggled in the ratings could turn into such a massive influence (WKRP, outside of references to turkey genocide, never did). But Trek was ground-breaking: It shook off the more hoary SciFi cliches and tried stories that delved into social and political debates.

It cast African-Americans in prominent starring and guest roles: Just having Uhura - despite the seeming meaningless task of "hailing" calls - on the bridge of a starship alongside White men (mostly) in a genuine attempt at ethnic and gender sharing was shocking for the 1960s television market. Would it stun you to find out that Southern television stations back in the day would insist on cutting out any black characters on shows as much as possible? Having Uhura in nearly every bridge shot made that impossible. No less a figure than Martin Luther King spoke to actress Nichelle Nichols to convince her to stay on after she wanted to move on: She was that important a role model.

The show routinely called into question the human condition: What is racism? Can Logic as a belief structure control the emotional impulses that divided our lives with conflict, passion, and despair? Are we superior beings, our bipedal humanoid selves, or can sentient rocks like the Horta be our equals (and share the universe with us)? The best episodes questioned the duality of human nature, that things did not divide "equally" between good and evil, that sometimes we humans (or sometimes we Americans/Starfleet) were in the wrong... but that we had chances to do better.
The Horta was the first non-humanoid creature on Trek that showed intelligence
and ability to adapt/learn/communicate with us. The fans still love them
as one of the best aliens the show ever created.

Religion and faith were part of the debate. What is spiritual purity? Gods would appear on the show only to be revealed as petulant children or uncaring beasts or soulless computers (and yet the show retained a vague Judeo-Christian value system that a benign distant Providence kept things ticking).

Trek would argue the virtues of Socialism one episode (the United Federation of Planets had replicators, advanced agricultural tech, a "wantless society" that couldn't comprehend gold or trinkets of value) and push the Libertarian virtues of self-reliance and need for deregulation the next, but somehow pulled off the trick of making BOTH -isms co-existing and balanced (it did so by arguing that in a socialist-wantless society the human drive to achieve will still seek challenges and life purpose).

The show also dropped a ton of Tribbles on William Shatner's head.

It downplayed the then Cold War between the Soviets and Americans, by providing alternate Earth scenarios of bad ends for those Earths that couldn't resolve the East-West conflicts. By Season Two they included a Russian character - partly for comic relief and mostly to answer the legitimate complaint from the Soviets that they too were space explorers. Thus Chekov (who spoke with a Polish accent than Russian, go figure)

Why did Star Trek influence us, influence not just American culture but the global community?

It spoke of the future: At a time humanity was threatened with nuclear war, environmental disaster, or worse, Trek suggested we would outgrow our worst demons and answer to the better angels of our nature, that we would achieve space flight and do so in ways that would let us explore the cosmos. That we would meet races like Vulcans and Klingons and myriad others, and that despite the differences we could blend, co-exist, share our wonder of the universe.

Star Trek is a reflection of the whole Earth: that we are a diverse species us humans, clinging to this small blue/green rock covered with air and water, facing daily challenges to survive but still looking upward and outward, dreaming up warp drives and seeking out exoplanets that might share other lifeforms. The drive to improve ourselves and improve our futures.

The Trek universe itself allowed for a range of literary themes to play out, and gave us heroic characters - Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, Chekov as our original cast - that defined themselves as Archetype. Spock in particular would become a character that reached the level of legend, akin to Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes or Superman (RIP Leonard Nimoy).

And someday, we'll get this:

"You'll Be Safe Here" by Dean Trippe
Granted there's a ton of comic book heroes here, and the setting is Doctor Who's TARDIS, but Trek is there with Picard and other characters standing just behind the Doctor. Someday, there'll be a story that encompasses all our modern heroes, a tale of epic scale where all the heroes are summoned, and you can be certain that the USS Enterprise - all of them - will answer that call.

Let's make sure history never forgets the name Enterprise.

We won't.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Things About Writing on Labor Day Weekend

I've tried before to do a lot of writing on these long three-day weekends. It's time away from work. Living alone, I don't have many distractions in the house aside from my kittehs clawing at the furniture. There were a few years I even tried that 3-Day Novel contest of Anvil Press set for this weekend (never worked out, GODS that's an insane contest).

Still, this is a good time to get at least a handful of short stories started (or even finished).

Except for one thing.

It's a long weekend.

And I have a La-Z-Boy recliner.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Am I In Trouble With Canada Again?

What did I do to upset Canada now?

Well, nothing really. It's just I haven't blogged here in awhile and I need to keep traffic up.

Although if Hollywood wants a screenplay about the wacky hijinks behind the rash of Maple Syrup heists Oop North, I'm more than willing to pitch the idea to Universal or the guys who make the Sharknado series.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

We Even Had a Psyduck

I have proof.

"You got any more bottled water? All that walking makes a duck THIRSTY!"

We had a good turnout at the Bartow Library Pokemon Go Walk yesterday.

Where We Poke-Walked
There were three families, two with kids, and not all from Bartow. I explained some of the rules I knew, some of the kids told me otherwise and so everyone else was better informed, and we circled nearby Mosaic Park as that has a nice rectangular border to it with a sidewalk the whole way and PokeStops at key corners.

I found out most of the locals are Team Valor - NOoooooo - but that explains why most of the Gyms are all Red-State on me. :sigh: So if there's any Team Mystics in the Bartow area, we need to organize...

Oh, and capture more Pikachu.

Need to see about more outreach here. There was interest in the event, and while the turnout was good it wasn't as big as hoped for.

Maybe when school gets going, families will figure out their free times. We'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Caturday Nap Time

It's been awhile since I've uploaded a pic of my kitteh mama.

She's sleeping away while I work at the computer.

Ocean snores. But for some reason it doesn't pick up on the smartphone's recorder. So no video proof of it... yet.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July CampNaNo Results

Well, I got my designated word count over 50,000... so that means

Of course the novel itself is still a mess and needs heavy revision.

And there's about 52 other things I need to get done before this month is even over.

Still and all, I feel the need to get something published soon. Just not this rough draft. Gotta keep writing...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Okay, I'm Getting Weird Traffic Again At This Blog...

I'm getting stat counts but no one's hitting any actual article pages.

Should I be worried?

Edit: It's looking like most of this uncorrelated traffic is coming from Russia.

If they're here for my Pokemon, FORGET IT.
/defends to the death

Update: I am not the only one getting this weird traffic. Infidel753 at his political blog also reported on getting bizarre traffic, and Pinku-Sensei's getting that treatment as well.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Succumbed to the Urge... I Will Geek Out This August 2016 Comic-Con in Tampa

I am wary of the budget woes I currently have, but I need to enjoy life once in awhile, dammit.

Also, the Tampa Bay Comic Con has a couple of presentations on writing that Saturday August 6th I wanna follow up on.

Also also, with the release of Pokemon GO, I'm sorely tempted to see if the convention hall will have working WiFi and a ton of PokeStops. Here's hoping there's a Lure drop of EPIC proportions that weekend.

Alas, I WILL NOT Cosplay this year. It gets too hot and sweaty and carrying the lightsaber everywhere gets complicated etc. etc.

I will document the atrocities as best I can.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

There Are Pidgeottos At The Library: Pokemon GO and Outreach

So last week a new online game designed as a smartphone App - Pokemon GO - came out, and pretty much dominated the news and gaming fervor since then. It's outpacing social media apps and turning into a kaiju-sized monster. Busy week...

Based on the popular Pokemon trading/training/battle game, Pokemon GO is an update of the original game from the early 1990s. This time, the game's draw is that it can be played in a real-world environs. GO overlaps onto existing map locations (called "augmented reality") and places the cartoon battle animals - currently the original 150 creatures - into these locations for people to "catch" them for powering up, evolving, and fighting other players' Pokemon.

Meanwhile, real-world public areas - parks, churches, malls, libraries - are set up to serve as either PokeStops - places for players to resupply themselves with needed gear - or Gyms - places for players to battle their Pokemon to control that Gym as a Trainer.

This means that people playing the game HAVE to go to these real-world locales to do what they do to level up and win.

And I mentioned libraries.

The library where I work is a PokeStop: that is, we can be a place for players to recharge (there are two Gyms nearby). PokeStops can also have Lures running in half-hour intervals that summon Pokemon into range for capture, which means every so often players - kids, teens AND adults (those who played in the 1990s with nostalgia and whimsy) - will gather at our library primarily to restock and reload.

This all came as a sudden shock: although news about GO had been out for a year or more, nobody really understood the real-world applications of this game until it got the huge response from millions of players suddenly swarming about in places that didn't realize they were PokeStops/Gyms.

The question is, how can libraries benefit from this real-world development?

There's a couple of resources librarians can read up on to gain understanding of Pokemon GO, and also get tips on how to market/outreach to the kids/adults/families coming in to snare themselves a PsyDuck. School Library Journal has a link, ALA has a blog page on their Library Services to Children site, and the Public Library Association is diving into the mania while the going's good.

The best suggestions are to advertise locally - and early and often - that the library is a game location. I've been doing that with City of Bartow Library's Facebook page, and am looking to create a few more online tags for people to hear the news. Creating signs and banners is an easy step to take. One idea would be to host events: As a PokeStop, I can plan ahead and announce a Lure running on a specific day and time to draw in those who'll want to benefit from an increase in Pokemon to capture (a test run showed me the Lure draws in about TRIPLE the amount of Pokemon, sweet).

A wonderful suggestion by a library group promoting GO: using a 3D printer if you got one (WE DO) and creating Pokemon badges (WE COULD) that kids can pick up if they show that they're on the game and winning certain things. Along with the badge we'd give them a library bookmark promoting our hours and library events.

One other thing libraries have to do: Remind people playing the game to stay safe. There is a risk to playing GO because of the requirement to play in the real world. It involves walking outdoors, near major traffic areas sometimes or in public parks with dangers involving remote spots or late-night activities. There are a lot of serious safety concerns. We've got to make sure people in our libraries - in our communities - stay safe as best as possible.

Meanwhile, the biggest problem: Keeping up with Pokeballs. It's gonna take a lot of balls to play Pokemon GO.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

NEW Book Published - Surviving the Age of Obstruction

I may have mentioned from time to time that I had purchased a publication deal with Xlibris a few years ago. Well, ten eleven years ago, actually.

Long story short, I decided to just get the contract done with, take a sampling of essays/articles I write on my political blog You Might Notice a Trend, and put it into book form. It's doable: many a newspaper or media columnist collect their works in such a way - Molly Ivins for example - to have available as a collection. Sort of like a Greatest Hits album.

So, I went and put my political rants into something I can show to my friends and enemies. Surviving the Age of Obstruction: Notes on the Obama years.

It's a look back at eight years of political madness, a pro-Obama, anti-Republican work that delves into my apostasy and my observations on how Obama - and the nation - endured it all.

I submitted the final proofing two weeks ago. The book has been available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble's websites since last week. I just got a copy from the publisher this weekend.

There is something incredibly satisfying about holding a physical copy of your book. A tangible sensation of completion, of getting past a finish line. It's different than publishing an ebook, as there's a lack of a trophy of sorts - the printed book - to make that completion feel real.

Just to note, the process from submitting the rough draft to completed physical copy has sped up the last time I did this. Last of the Grapefruit Wars - my short story collection - took a few weeks to go through the editing and proofing process, and then took another two months for print availability (the point of Print-on-Demand is that the book is saved on file and physically printed on an order-by-order basis).

I know some of the people reading this blog may not know about my political ranting blog, but you can check that out, I have the link available above and over on the right menu lists.

Now all I need to do is ask about oh 500,000 people to buy my book. That shouldn't be too hard...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016

So, while I've got a bunch of projects floating out there, MIGHT AS WELL START ONE MORE!

ow, stop hitting me! Just go visit http://www.campnanowrimo.org and find out what I'm shilling!

Actually, I'm going to be using this upcoming July Camp NaNo to re-start that Ocean Dancers plot idea I had two years ago and take it into a different direction. I like the idea, and I wanna mess with it, but I've looked at how I've painted myself into a corner (again) on the first run and I'm thinking I need to try an alternate path.

So, now. It's going to be How to Invade Earth And Get Away With It.

this won't be the final cover, this is just a placeholder/
motivator to get er done.

I worry the book title's already been done, although WorldCat is telling me I'm in the clear on this.

If anyone in Central Florida area wants in on the Camp NaNo Cabin I'm in, leave a comment here or contact me at the CampNaNo site (under the name of "Witty").

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bit Off-Topic: Missing Some Gameplay

You should know I still miss City of Heroes.

I miss the superhero roleplay. The team-ups. The power mixing. The costumes. The overall camp/seriousness of the eternal struggle of GOOD vs. EVIL.

The few MMOs in superhero genre don't cover the loss. Champions Online is just questionable gameplay and I could never get into the dynamics of it.

I've done other MMOs: Star Trek Online and Star Wars The Old Republic, but both of them don't provide much to free play.

I can't really get into the PvP games. It's the big reason why I didn't get Overwatch when it came out this month, although the buzz on it as a multiplayer makes it sound so tempting. Also, budget. I can't indulge right now... if ever.

I need something to improve my mood, though.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Indie eBook Award Via Library Journal

Just to be fair aboot it, I want to let everyone else who's self-publishing their eBooks to know that Library Journal - as part of the American Library Association - is hosting an Indie eBook Award for 2016.

The rules are simple. Two eBooks enter, one eBook leaves.

Okay, actually, it's this:
The competition is open to all English-language self-published ebooks for which the author is the copyright holder of the Work, and holds the rights to digital distribution. Entries will be evaluated on content, writing quality, and overall quality of production and appearance. There are no restrictions on date of publication. (Library Journal may demand proof of eligibility of semifinalists.) Review our full terms & conditions before submitting your entries.
Library Journal (“LJ”) honors the best self-published ebooks in the following genres: Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Young Adult.
ATTENTION: If your book in not in one of these genres, you can still submit to SELF-e using our standard submission form.
Judging committees will be comprised of Library Journal editors and public library collection development & acquisition librarians, who are responsible for selecting content suitable for their libraries. Some winners of the 2015 contest will also be participating as judges. They will select one winner and designate two honorable mentions in each category. We are accepting contest submissions through July 31, 2016.
Each genre prize Winner shall receive $1,000.00. All winners and honorable mentions shall also receive:
  • A full LJ review, in print and online
  • A promotional ad in LJ’s December “Best of Books” issue, displaying all award winners honor books
  • Recognition at LJ Self-Published Ebook Awards reception at the 2017 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta

So you have until July 31st to get your eBook copyright-protected, perform a summer solstice pagan ritual (gotta get that done by June 21, you heathens), and submit at least one of your eBooks.

I will. I'm tempted to submit two: Body Armor Blues and A Serious Tank on a Clockwork World. I'm more curious to see what the response will be like rather than considering I'll win anything. What makes it worthwhile is even the honorable mentions will get a review published of their works, which means a lot of public and college libraries will see those reviews in Library Journal (and libraries are good markets for books AND eBooks)...

Such is life, c'est la vie.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Just a Weird Observation About Working at Bartow Library

It's just, in the three years I've been working at Bartow Library as the Reference and Computer Tech Support Librarian, I have gone through four boxes of business cards. In the years that I've had company business cards - since 1997 or so with Broward County up to 2003, up to 2006 at University of Florida, and between 2006 to 2008 with Pasco County - I barely finished off the single box of cards each place had given me.

It's a difference in the audience now. Previously, the business cards were just for professional courtesy between fellow librarians for conferences and conventions. At Bartow, it's the public who take the cards so they can call back later to schedule One-on-One sessions to teach them how to use their computers and tablets, or fix any glitches in the software/operating system (I don't have the tools or supplies to fix hardware, sorry).

Still, it just seems... nicer, to be able to say I'm handing out so many business cards like this.

Now, if I can just hand out my bookmarks promoting the ebooks I've got on sale at the same rate as my business cards...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Paradox on Vacations

One of the sad truths of my life and librarianship profession is that I get a lot of vacation time as part of my benefits... but I don't earn enough to afford any decent vacations that I could go.

It's been like this every place of employment I've been - public AND academic library - where I have all this time I could take but no means to take them... I've capped out accrued vacation hours nearly every place I've worked, it got so bad when I was with Broward Libraries they insisted I take leave one year just so their HR computers wouldn't tank on my data. A following year the county offered a payout to cash of a set number of hours, which I took... and then added up all those vacation hours again because I still couldn't really afford a trip on the money I had in hand (which kind of went towards paying off part of my college loan debt I still had).

I did go on a week-long vacation last year - to go see Gettysburg on the anniversary of the battle, plus watching the 4th of July fireworks from the DC Mall - but that wiped me out financially even including the extra money my parents helped me with.

So here I am, kinda feeling like I need to use up leave 'cause I've capped out my vacation hours yet again... and yet I've got nowhere to go.

The smart thing would be to take little trips to places I can visit within reasonable driving distance - state parks, the beaches, museums - but going by myself to a lot of them is... well... sad.

Other thing I can do is get some more writing done, take the week off to complete any number of unfinished novels on hand. But that's feeling more like work than time off.

I might mix one or the other. We'll see.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I Came, I Saw, I Sold Books: Local Authors Event 2016

Well, as I warned ya, I went to the Local Authors Event in Wesley Chapel at the Barnes & Noble this afternoon.

I set up two of my ebooks - The Hero Cleanup Protocol and Body Armor Blues - for FREE download via the B&N shop, still good for the rest of the weekend by the by, and packed up some books and signage and bookmarks and made my drive up to the store. Silly me, I forgot to bring display stands for the books themselves as well as the bookmarks. Good thing my table companions were Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn from Mystery & Horror LLC publishing and they brought a bookmark stand.

And so, as threatened, I documented the atrocities no no uh abbatoir ack wrong word hold on avalanche hmmm maybe... here we go, thesaurus suggests the word affair. Anywho.

getting set up at the check-in desk

they would have us at tables in appropriate shelf areas.
they don't have a large enough spot for all writers to sit together.

looking down into the first floor. More writers checking in.

Inspirational writers - should have gotten names, sorry - in the Lego area.
I just noticed I keep angling my smartphone too much on the right side.

action shot of writers getting set up at their table!

Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn already getting customers at the table

the store manager set us up in the Science Fiction shelves
there was a traffic jam at this corner table...

Two of the local authors - ach, I need your names - waving hello, hope they had fun today.

I think that's Madonna Wise pitching her latest history
on Wesley Chapel itself

after two hours of talking up our books, we were getting a little silly...
By the by, my parents had stopped by to show moral support - and shop for books, they're avid readers - and so Dad got those last set of photos for me. Thank ye, Dad.

As for the day itself, I talked a few interested shoppers into the FREE downloads I was offering for the weekend as part of promoting this day, as well as getting one buyer of the History And Mystery Oh My book (the buyer liked that we had two stories in it nominated for Agathas in the Short Story category).

It'd be nice to get more people showing up at these things, sad to note most of my friends are either in south Pinellas or Polk Counties, too far away for them to make the trek. Le sigh...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Reminder: Local Authors Event in Wesley Chapel THIS Saturday May 21

Update 5/21: I am here now. I will document the event as best I can and post a follow-up later tonight. Please check back then. Hope to see you all here in Wesley Chapel!!!

One more time: I'll be at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Wiregrass Mall in Wesley Chapel FL, north of Tampa, on Saturday May 21 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

If anybody wants to show up - and it will be great to have people come and support the local authors and readership in general, please and thank you - please do.

As part of this weekend event, I've gone and turned two of my eBooks into FREE downloads for Nook eReaders: Body Armor Blues and Hero Cleanup Protocol. All I ask if you download either one and if you like the stories, please give them a review. More reviews means increased shopping views.

Click here to the B&N store link.

Click here to the B&N store link.
Hope to see you tomorrow!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Biggest Problem with Publishing to eBook?

You lack the physical material - the actual book - to promote your works when you go out to any author signing events.

The work-around for that is to have at least one thing published in book form to have on the display table, and then having posters and bookmarks and handout items like pens or notepads at the ready for people to take home.

So there's a cost to that: getting bookmarks printed with professional stock paper - glossy stock, a thicker card-like stock - gets up into the tens of dollars to print a hefty amount to hand out.

The rules of creating things like bookmarks are relatively simple:

1) Eye-catching image on one side of the bookmark, usually a part of the book cover art;

2) The other side of the bookmark has to contain brief Author information, and detailed Book information about where and how it can get purchased. ISBN number, which website to find it at, which eReaders can open it, etc.

3) If it's an object, like a coffee mug or pen, it depends on the amount of space you're working with. A coffee mug or mousepad or poster should have more than enough room on one side for the book cover, but a pen or smaller object would have to go with just the title of the book, author info, and weblink to an Author's Page.

Like all graphic design projects, it would help to rely on someone trained in marketing design and layout.

Just to note all this as I prep for the Local Authors' Signing this Saturday.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reminder: Barnes & Noble Wiregrass at Wesley Chapel, Saturday May 21

The Local Authors Signing event. The store's address is:
28152 Paseo Dr Suite 100
Wesley Chapel, FL 33543
In case you want to GPS it on Google Maps.

It'll be from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, it's a two-story bookstore and they've tended to put us at tables on the second floor. There should be about twenty-five others, and I know that this time around some of the authors from the anthologies Strangely Funny and History and Mystery Oh My will be present.

I hope to get a lot of people to show up to support local authors in general as well as my own work, and there's a lot of different genres - romance, teen, travel, true crime, inspirational, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and thriller - to choose from.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day For Cats

Heya, Ocean the Wiggle Cat! Did your son Mal the Crazy Cat bring you anything this Sunday for Mother's Day?

Ocean with River and Inara
Ocean is still waiting for Mal to bring her a balled-up wad of paper
for her Mother's Day present

Thursday, May 5, 2016

In Which We Pester Writer Columbkill Noonan About Humor and Horror Anthologies Until It's TOO LATE

As part of the ongoing promotion for the latest humor/horror anthology Strangely Funny III, now available as print book (ISBN-13 978-0996420969) and Amazon ebook...

I've been interviewing fellow authors of the anthology, and this time around I got a reply back from an entity known only as Columbkill Noonan. I have no idea which parent lost the bet during Naming Day, but still, here we go:

Question 1: What inspired you to write stories with a humorous bent?

I equally enjoy writing serious stories, but funny stories definitely seem to come more easily to me. Perhaps because much of my life tends to be a comedy of errors, so I have no lack of inspiration.

Question 2: Which is harder, writing a horror scene or writing a humor scene?

Definitely horror. I find myself, well, horrified when writing horror scenes. One of my own stories even gave me nightmares!

Question 3: So was Mad Max Fury Road robbed of Best Picture at the Oscars or what?!

(This question was apparently so heartbreaking that Columbkill Noonan was unable to answer. Instead, she was seen spraying Silver Mist food coloring over her mouth while jumping into a souped-up SUV screaming "MEDIOCRE" and driving into the wastelands)

Question 4: If you had a choice between classic monsters - the vampire, the golem, the werewolf, the ghost, the gill-man - which one would you throw a coconut custard pie with whipped cream at?

The werewolf...because he might take some time to eat the pie instead of me. A ghost would be entirely indifferent to the pie; same with the vampire (unless it were blood pudding, maybe?), and the gill-man...what was a gill-man, again?

Question 5: and why did that pie end up hitting Humphrey Bogart instead?

Because Humphrey must be a werewolf. Obviously.

About the Author:

Columbkill Noonan has no biography. No identity. No grade point average. A lone rider in the night, wolf by her side, Blu Oyster Cult guitar solos wailing in the distance, driving through the dark woods of (Insert spooky remote area of the Eastern seaboard here). Fleeing from a scarred past, a dangerous mission that went horribly wrong, that one incident that haunts her forever until the time of reckoning at the tide of a blood-red moon...
...either that or she's trying to get the pizza delivered before the 30 minute timer runs out...
Columbkill does have a Facebook page.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Strangely Funny III The Print Version. The Publishers Sent Me a Copy

And it's now sitting on my bed.

The THIRD book out of FOUR Volumes (there was a .5 version in there somewhere)

This means that the print version of the book is now available through retailers and online via Amazon and through any retailer that you give the ISBN number to: it's ISBN-13 978-0996420969 and if you tell them that they can pull up the record for ordering.

I really hope people like my story - the follow-up to "I Must Be Your First" - titled "Minette Dances with the Golem of Albany" and that people who purchase copies of the anthology leave behind good reviews of it, Please and Thank You.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reminder: Barnes & Noble Local Author Event May 21st

Just noting that the Barnes & Noble Wesley Chapel bookstore has the official notice for their Local Authors event on Saturday May 21st from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Link here for more info:

Here's a map to the location, it's north of Tampa just east of I-75 on State Rd 56 (it's the first exit past the Pasco County border if you're driving north on the interstate).
There's going to be about 25 other authors there to promote their works, and it would be real nice if we could get a lot of people showing up to support our writing and to support reading and books in general.

Thank ye! I hope to see you all there (yes even the Chinese Spammers I kept getting about 5-6 years ago, c'mon people it's only 3000 km away!)

Friday, April 22, 2016

NEW Published: A Serious Tank on a Clockwork World

You may notice an earlier post about teaching a class on self-publishing and e-publishing in particular. Part of the class was to demonstrate how to actually upload that book and make it available.

So I took a story I'd been fiddling with for years, cleaned it up as best I could, struggled over designing my own book cover, and tried the upload.

I messed up the file size of the book cover JPG, so the class got futzed in a hurry.

In the meantime, I'd discussed the whole issue of book covers online with fellow NaNoWriMo writers, and a ton of them all told me the same thing: my cover design skills suck. So a couple of them threw out their ideas, and writer Mary Crawford came up with a cover that just looked gorgeous so I begged to buy hers off at $100 to use for the story.
That looks beautiful, with the reflective blue glass, doesn't it?

The story itself... look, I got to admit, this wasn't a SERIOUS attempt to publish as it was a way to show how others how to do it. If you wanna know, it's a tale built off the Asimov's Laws of Robotics - with revisions - and it involves a future world where a planet full of androids have to cope with an unwanted destructive military tank.

It's not much, just an excuse to throw some ideas out there. I had bits and pieces of sentences and scenes that I liked, and needed to put in something somewhere. If you do read the story and notice how uneven it is, that's why: set pieces strung together with barely enough in common to make a coherent tale.

I wouldn't say it's "Very Bad Poetry, Captain" but it's not exactly Hugo-worthy either.

Still, it's out there, on the market, with a beautiful book cover to it, and I really need to get about 100 people buying it so I can recoup my purchase of the cover from Ms. Crawford. Have at it, kids!

Oh, you need links:

Kindle download version

Nook download version