Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back OnLine

All right. With more trouble than I would have liked, I'm finally back online. (If this posts.) We had the WildBlue folks come and hook up our satellite for internet, but they failed to hook it up to "my" computer. Lana needed a new computer anyway so we went and bought her one and set that up, and finally, after many "readings of the help files," I found out how to get back to my blogger account. Right now I'm exhausted and am going to have a beer. More posts coming soon.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Various Issues

I'm checking in remotely again, but this should be the last day. They are supposed to come hook up our internet connection at the new house today. I've got my fingers crossed.

In writing news, another Illuminata is up, with a "Writer's Block" column by me. The issue is listed at the bottom right of the archives, August 2006. I'm also reading a book called Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Mayberry, with an eye toward providing him with a cover quote. The book has really hooked me and I'm enjoying it greatly so far. I'm about a third of the way through it. I spent most of the weekend writing, but it was for non-fiction. Still, I was glad to get back on the computer and log a few hours. I got a lot accomplished at least.

If our net is up when I get home, I should start posting regularly here again. If you don't see a new post by me in the next two days figure something went wrong with the satellite set up. If it is up I plan to go back to posting most every day, with the focus on writing again.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Moving is a Pain

When you have a lot of books, that is. I've just been working 12 hour days the past week getting the new house organized and a big part of that was just getting my books put up. I've made good progress, though. Yesterday I tucked boxes of stuff away in the closets and now I have room to move around in the house.

Unfortunately, we've found that the builders did a half assed job on many things. The AC wasn't cooling, because they left a vent open underneath the house and it was nice and cool there. I taped it up but they are supposed to come soon to fix it. We also found leaks around the intake area of the AC where the carpet is getting wet. Not sure what that means but I'll have them check it out. Our dishwasher is not bolted in, and our hot water heater apparently doesn't work. In other news, we've been waiting for a phone line for a week now. Who'd a thunk it could take so long. It should be another 7 to 8 days before we get internet set up at the new place as well, but I'll be checking in here as I can. I haven't been able to get out of the house to even go to the library because we have people supposed to come over constantly to fix things.

But, hey, it's nice to see the trees and hear the frogs and birds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Checking In

Well, we're moved into the new house. Now the hard work is to get everything unpacked and organized. I've been working on my office and have my bookshelves and computer set up, and some books on the shelves. We still don't have internet or phone. The phone guy came yesterday but had problems. He's supposed to come back today. I've also got to call the net people but was going to wait until after the TV people come tomorrow. I had to come to work today and am using my university net service, but I don't want to drive an hour hear each day for that. I will try to be checking net stuff at the local library in Abita Springs. But there may still be gaps in this blog.

It's great to be in the new place, with trees on three sides of us. I'll post some pictures down the line. We did find that our AC wasn't cooling well and finally I crawled under the house and found that the builders had left one vent open to the ground and cool air was filling the area beneath the trailer. I got it taped up temporarily but we have a call in to them to fix that.

And now it's off to unpack more books. Man I have a lot of books.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Can't Sleep

I guess I'm excited. It's 6:30 on moving day and I've been up for over an hour. Too much on my mind. Last minute things to do. Last minute worries to worry.

Knowing that I might be offline for a few days after today, I finished up my next column for The Illuminata and emailed it to the editor, Bret Funk. That went out last night. It's called "The Working Man's Curse," and is about how to keep up the momentum on a writing project even when "work" work interferes. Other than that, I'm waiting and reading.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blog Holiday?

Tomorrow the movers come to take our beds and bookshelves to our other place and we'll be sleeping there from now on. Since we don't have internet hooked up there yet, I may miss a few days of blogging. I feel like I've gotten some momentum going so I hate to, but unless I can find some way of accessing the net I won't have a choice but to call a temporary halt.

In other news, I got my latest mailing from REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association. It's a huge one for our 200th anniversary. I started working on my next mailing last night and made good progress. I also got a nice new review on Amazon for Cold in the Light from a reader. It's entitled "Modern Science Fiction Thrill Ride" and is the second review down on the page. A nice surprise.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Writing Slow Down

The last few days have been consummed with moving related issues. It's all the little details that are maddening. Just changing an address is a major undertaking. Then there's setting up the garbage collection, the phone, the TV, the internet. I haven't had much time to actually write so I've been jotting a few lines of poetry here and there on notepads and have been doing some reading about writing. I also stopped in at Books-A-Million on the Northshore, which isn't far from our place. I bought another David Gemmell book. A few days back I stopped at the Abita Springs library to get a library card but they said I had to bring in a bill with my new address on it as proof I was living there. I'll do that next week.

The movers come on Monday to haul our life from Metairie to Abita Springs, so we have to have everything out of the way for that. Today and Sunday will be full, especially since I also have to go to graduation ceremonies at Xavier today. Best get to it, I guess.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Warning! Rant in Session

Can you say Pissed Off? I can. I had to renew my driver’s license, which I could have done by mail or internet. However, I also have to change my address and that can’t be done online or via mail apparently. So, this morning I went to the DMV. Or I tried.

Knowing that there is always a line out the door at the DMV for its 8:00 O’clock opening, I got up at 7:00 this morning and was there by 7:30. Only to find a sign in the window that they had moved to a new location. Sigh.

It took me forty minutes to find the new location, which turned out to be just half a mile from my apartment. By that time there was a...line out the door. I waited. I waited some more. I finally got to the receptionist who gave me a number and put me in the “Express” line. Yeah!

But wait. I was #032 and I sat while they called 028, 029, 030, 031, in short order. Then stillness set in. They called a bunch of other numbers for other, non-express lines, but no 032. I waited almost 30 minutes, at which point a man hollers for our attention and announces that the DMV’s computers are shut down across the entire state. There’s no sense in waiting but we can come back another day. Over two and a half hours down the drain and I’ll just have to do it again tomorrow. Yes, I’m not a happy camper.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Buying Books

I got a coupon in the mail from Barnes & Noble for 15% off all purchases so naturally I went to the bookstore last night. I bought some more David Gemmell books, and a couple by James Sallis, who is a very fine writer. I'll have to post some information on him here one of these days. I also picked up a pound of paper by john baxter, which is subtitled "confessions of a book addict." Sound familiar? I've actually read most of it before because I did an article on Baxter, who was an early SF writer, for a reference work. Baxter is still alive, and living in France. I managed to get in touch with hhim by email and he was very friendly and helpful.

I also got The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference. I know a lot of the stuff in it but it doesn't hurt to have it handy in case I need to look something up. And there are some new terms that I'm not familiar with. It's sort of a dictionary and encyclopedia in one. I also got Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass and I think I might give it a work through as I get ready to start another novel. Can't hurt. Does anyone out there find reading books on writing helpful to their own work? Just curious.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I was a bit upset to read in the latest Writer's Digest about a magazine entitled Lucky, where an editor contacted book publicists in New York with a call for "an attractive female author...between the ages of 25 and 35" for a project they were planning. In other words, writing skill and experience need not apply. Physical attractiveness was the main criteria.

Why didn't they just call Paris Hilton to begin with?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Off Work?

I'm officially off work but that hasn't made much difference for my getting to sleep in. I was up at 6:00 Saturday to make it to the Baton Rouge SF Con, and got up at 6:15 this morning because I had to go across the lake to our new place in Abita Springs to meet with the mail delivery person. Then I put up our mailbox and set up our electric bill. But I think I'll be able to get a nap this afternoon, and man am I looking forward to it.

I was at the new house early this morning and was looking out through the window of my soon-to-be office at the trees. A faint bluish mist hung around the trunks, and thin beams of sunlight struck through the foliage. It was inspiring and made me want to have my computer and desk set up so I could write. Strangely enough, perhaps, I've traditionally had my computer facing a wall instead of window so that I wouldn't be distracted from my work. Maybe it's time for a change.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Star One Delta Con

Well, I’m fresh back from the Star One Delta Con in Baton Rouge. It was the first annual. Let’s hope there’ll be more. I was told that they’d made it into the black so that probably means there will be more. Attendance wasn’t huge but there were a respectable number of folks there. My first two panels were well attended. My last one was at 6:00 in the evening, though, after a huge thunderstorm, and there were only three people. One of them was not my copresenter, who didn’t show up. Still, we had a good discussion.

I sold a couple of my books and handed out quite a few bookmarks. As usual, I met a lot of good folks. There were at least four PhD’s there, one in astronomy, one in paleontology, one in English, and one in psychology, of course. There was a fellow doing rocket demonstrations, and there was a panel where they showed trailers for upcoming SF releases, many of which had not been previously seen by the general public. They auctioned off guest appearances as a character in the Spiderman 3 novel, the next Predator novel, and in a Star Trek novel. I would have definitely bid on the Predator one where you were to be killed messily, but I had a panel at the same time and had to miss the auction. Sigh!

The dealer’s room was very small, and there are plans to expand that next year. I would have liked to have seen some booksellers but there wasn’t much room for it really. There was a guy selling comics and graphic novels. I bought a set of sword & sorcery comics drawn by Gil Kane.

All in all, I had a great time and would recommend it to anyone. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Star One Delta group, then click here.

Note: Art by Lana Jackman again.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Art and the Artist

The sketch I've posted today was drawn by my girlfriend, Lana Jackman. She's a very talented artist and this is one of my favorite sketches by her. Much of her stuff is fantasy related, but she does other types of drawings, as well, including amazing birds. She has lately been on an abstract kick.

I've always been envious of visual artists. I wish I had the talent to capture the images in my head and from my dreams on a canvas instead of in words. But I can't even draw a stick figure without screwing it up. I guess I'm stuck with prose.

Lana is also a talented poet and if you are interested in seeing more of her stuff you can check out her webpage.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yeah, and...

Final grades are finished and turned in. Yeah!!!! Except for a few expected calls from students to complain, I'm going to be on break for a couple of weeks. Sleep sounds so good to me right now.

In other news, I'm getting ready for the Star One Delta con in Baton Rouge this Saturday. Check here for a map and more information. I'll be sitting on three panels, one on getting published, one on possible alien physiology and mentality, and one on New Orleans Gothic literature. I'm looking forward to it.

I also finished reading Kate Wilhelm's Storyteller. Although I disagreed on occassion with her, I thought the book was quite excellent. I recommend it. I will still be posting a few items related to that book in future blog entries.

Hey, I'm a going home.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Movie Monsters

Do you like movie monsters? Hey, everyone does, don’t they? But do you remember your movies and your monsters? Can you look at the phrases or quotes below and match them with the famous monsters below that? Now this quiz is easy. Anything less than eleven correct and you surely can’t be trying. Less than six correct and you need to go out and buy yourself a VCR/DVD and spend some time catching up on the classics.

1. Not so jolly Green Giant
2. “I’ll be back”
3. Fava beans
4. Who goes there?
5. “The Children of the Night.”
6. Skull collector
7. The Moon is a harsh mistress
8. Swim fan
9. When electricity came to the castle
10. Chest burster
11. No sarcophagus can hold him
12. The eighth wonder of the world
13. I told you not to open that box
14. Amorphous Entity
15. Elder God

a. King Kong
b. The Mummy
c. Dracula
d. The Wolfman
e. Godzilla
f. The Terminator
g. The Predator
h. Cthulhu
i. Creature from Black Lagoon
j. Pinhead
k. The Blob
l. Hannibal Lecter
m. Frankenstein’s Monster
n. Alien
o. The Thing

Answers: 1. Godzilla, 2. Terminator, 3. Hannibal Lecter, 4. The Thing, 5. Dracula, 6. Predator, 7. The Wolfman, 8. Creature from the Black Lagoon, 9. Frankenstein’s Monster, 10, Alien, 11. The Mummy, 12. King Kong, 13. Pinhead, 14, The Blob, 15. Cthulhu.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ken Bulmer

Henry Kenneth Bulmer, who died December 16, 2005 at the age of 84, is also a favorite writer of mine, and he’s one that relatively few of my friends appreciate. Ken, as he was called, was born in London in 1921 and wrote close to 170 novels and numerous short stories for British, American, and European markets. Many of his books were SF or fantasy, but many others weren’t, and because he wrote under numerous pseudonyms and house names it’s sometimes difficult to track down his work. Chances are you’ve read more than one of his books without knowing it.

Two of Bulmer’s pseudonyms are of particular interest to me. He wrote three excellent sword & sorcery novels under the name Manning Norvil, each of which got better than the one before. These featured a character named Odan: The Half-God, and are Dream Chariots, Whetted Bronze, and Crown of the Sword God. Ken also wrote fifty-two books and a novella in the Dray Prescot Sword & Planet series, which were modeled on the Martian books of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Many of the Prescot books were written under the name Alan Burt Akers, although the later ones were credited to Prescot himself, who was the hero of the series. Only the novella and thirty-seven of the Prescot books were published in English, all by DAW books. Despite the fact that they were written in English, the remaining books were printed only in Germany where there is a big Bulmer fan base.

Efforts are currently underway by fan groups to get the remaining Prescot books published in English. Just recently, Mushroom Books has started republishing the early works in the series in electronic format and are hoping to acquire the German-only ones as well. This will certainly depend on sales of their early releases.

I’ll not make the claim here that Bulmer was a great writer in the sense of transcending his subject matter. I do know that I like him enough to systematically collect his work, and I think of him as a solid professional who consistently turned out interesting and imaginative stories. He even had a good dose of poetry in his soul, and he never forgot his roots among the fans.

For more about Bulmer, see his entry on Wikipedia, which lists most of his works. There’s also a yahoo group dedicated to him. It’s called Kregen, and I’m a member of it. Kregen was the name of the world where Bulmer’s most famous character, Dray Prescot, had his adventures.