Saturday, December 29, 2018

Plan For 2019 As a Writer

One of my priorities is submitting "A Face In the Light" to any publisher willing to accept it. Gwendolyn Kiste, bless her, gave me a suggested magazine to try at the beginning of January!

In terms of other projects, I'm keen on completing the NaNo novel this past year and getting it submitted through IngramSpark (ah, more on that later) which has a deal through NaNo worth checking out.

Otherwise, I need to keep writing. One idea, hopefully not too stressful, is to write a short story once a week. Since stories and not novels are my forte, play to my strengths. There's a ton of Talents 'verse stories I *should* get done (superhero ideas in my head since the 2000s).

One last thing is to see about reclaiming an old domain name I had (I dunno if I ever linked it through this blog before). It's already proving a hard project: even though it's been abandoned, it hasn't been picked up and any attempt to repurchase it is blocked. I need to check with the original domain provider about getting it back...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Witty's Year End Book Review 2018

For 2018, things have been super-busy at work to where I've cut back on fiction reading, so I'm racking my brain right now trying to remember what I've actually *read* or re-read.

Some of the rules to note: the works listed may not be new this year, but are ones I've read this year or re-read as a refresher of sorts. Thing is, you should be able to find them in your local library or at least online as an ebook for purchase. The links are to the Goodreads website where you can track your reading library for sharing with friends. That said, the Pumpkin Spice Must Flow...

Best Fiction

The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin

Science fiction/Fantasy mistress Le Guin had passed away at year's beginning, and so one thing I'd done this year was catch up on the works by her I haven't read. (The ones I've read were Wizard of Earthsea, Left Hand of Darkness, Lathe of Heaven) I swore to read The Dispossessed and so I did.

It's part of the Hainish Cycle, placed in the same universe as Left Hand, but focusing on two different human-ish civilization (well, maybe three of them) vying against each other over key philosophical beliefs. Anarres and Urras are rival binary planets (one's a moon to the other), with Anarres a mining world based on communal sharing (no one owns anything) and an anarchistic political system while Urras is a harshly class-structured, capitalist-driven world. The protagonist, an Anarres scientist completing a complex new math formula involving Time, has to cope with the culture clash of Urras when he travels there to escape the mobs angered by his individualistic behaviors. But neither world is as settled in their beliefs as they would insist, and both undergo natural and political crises that the hero has to endure until an uncertain ending has him returning to a chaotic Anarres.

Originally presented as a Dystopian novel ("an ambiguous Utopia" on the marketing), Dispossessed is more of an examination of the then prevailing world-views during the Cold War of Communism/Socialism and Capitalism. Neither side is presented wholly good: Anarres tends towards a natural morality but cannot handle any immorality their "open" society may allow (and excuses a lot of bullying and mob mindthink), while Urras behaviors are obsessed with public standing and allows for ownership - and thus theft - of both ideas and people to where corruption overrides achievement. As someone who's studied Utopian literature since college, this was a compelling read that reinforced a lot of things I've learned from reading stuff like Looking Backward.

Best Non-Fiction

Dewey: A Beginner's Guide, by David Hildebrand

As part of learning and relearning my worldview, I've been digging into Pragmatism as a philosophy (an earlier award promoted William James' Pragmatism) and so I've been following up on the key players who set the foundations back in the late 19th early 20th Centuries. John Dewey stands with Charles Pierce and James, but as someone with an education background - where Pierce is pure engineering and James more psychology - and so someone who looked to create real-world applications of this -ism to daily life.

Hildebrand's work was advertised as an introduction to the core principles of Dewey's version of Pragmatism, which Hildebrand argues as a "bottom-up approach to philosophical inquiry" drawing from experience rather than observation. With chapters organized by philosophical foundation (Experience and Inquiry) leading into points of application (Politics, Education, Aesthetics, Relgion), the book provided a solid read. It's still academic-level stuff, so where I find it engaging others are going to get distracted. But if you want to get into Pragmatism as an -ism worth accepting, this is one of the better tomes to help you.

Best Graphic Novel (or Ongoing Series)

Is it a little blasphemous of me to note that while I've been reading a few series this year, none of them (except for Tom King's Mister Miracle which I've already awarded last year) have really stood out in my mind? I was ready to ballyhoo the special Batman issue where Bats and Catwoman would get married but (SPOILERS) that broke my damn heart so no on that.

I guess it happens sometimes. Some of the series I'm keeping up with - like Doomsday Clock - haven't paid off yet while others I've been back-reading turned out to be less impressive than hoped for.

Best Work By Someone I Email, Tweet, or Chat With on a Regular Basis

And by that I mean someone who actually writes back (that makes it a select grouping of Diane Duane, John Scalzi, Stefan Petrucha, and maybe Stephen King (rechecks Twitter) no okay King's never tweeted back at me so he's out).

Thing is, I haven't really read anything this year by any of the authors that might justify posting here. I've got Scalzi's latest book The Consuming Fire (sequel to Collapsing Empire) on hold at the library (yes, even as a librarian I won't cut in line. I have ethics) and I've been busy reading (and writing) to where I missed getting any of Duane's or Pterucha's or Sejic's or any of the others.

But hey, Sejic is coming out with a second volume of Death Vigil so...

Best Work Including Stuff I Wrote

Strangely Funny V, edited by Sarah Glenn.

A new short, this time "The Pumpkin Spice Must Flow," my contribution to the zombie apocalypse genre. But instead of zombies created by magic, or by infection, the zombies of this work are created by... coffee. Specifically, a form of seasonal pumpkin spice flavored coffee that a bistro chain went and weaponized in order to build the most loyal consumer force on the planet.

Playing off a long-standing meme about pumpkin spice being served in Starbucks between September through Christmas, having it tied into Dune's "The spice must flow" mantra, and based on a real-life incident where a shortage at a Pumpkin Spice festival in a college town led to rioting, I have a test market suburb fall to madness while a security team tries to enter the city to recover the last locked container of the dreaded spice. The results are... not pretty, and befitting a humor-horror anthology there's a mix of dark humor, bloodshed, and PUMPKIN SPICE COFFEE. Mmmm mmmmm, smell that rich aroma of... of... snarl... oh no, it's getting to me... (low gutteral noises) the Pumpkin Spice... Must... Flow... (turns into a Coffee Zombie Achiever)

What do you think, sirs and madams?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Io Saturnalia, 2018!

This is a Saturnalia logo I designed, messing around in a shareware program Inkscape, looking to make my own Saturnalia greeting card for the season!


Yeah, I know. It doesn't exactly POP out at ya.

I need to learn how to draw A) Roman wine caskets, B) the funky Saturnalia hats, and C) full-out Chariot Race laurels.

In the meantime, if YOU need Saturnalia greeting cards, check it out at my CafePress store.