Monday, March 31, 2008

April Again

One day before
Gray sky turns April
The weight is already here
Gathered like flood waters
Black behind my eyes

Memories press down
Like tombstones
Like leaves piled by wind
In a hollow

How many miles
From here to there
How many years
And no bridges between

Within lies the dust
Of faded roses
A cracked smile
A whisper of prayer

Eyes of fair blue
Smokey with the past
Still he waits
A ghost in rosary

I cannot reach
No hand can grasp
But yet I wave
Once more in passing
April again

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bits and Pieces

You see them occasionally in your home town. They are always passing through. They are young men with long hair and blue jean jackets, and the look of the ascetic on their faces. They are derelicts clutching a paper bag, who make humped shadows in alleyways. They are young girls with flushed cheeks and too bright smiles, and women who seem always to be watching you. They may even be you. You can recognize them. In one way they are the same. They all have fangs in their eyes.

On the first day of the month of Harps he had not returned. And on the second the wind blew black with dust. I stood on the walls of Kaleri, my eyes red from seeing, and waited to watch him ride in gray out of the wind shadows. But he did not. On the third day I went out after him.

"High IQ," he said, "but the patient shows paranoid delusions of grandeur with ideas of reference."

"Ahhh," I said, as if I agreed.

"Attributable to Oedipal disturbances in childhood and complicated, I think, by an organic syndrome induced by narcotics abuse around the onset of puberty. The client also appears to exhibit concomitant antisocial characteristics and it may prove difficult to establish rapport."

"Yes. I fear you are right," I said, and turned him gently from the mirror.

I suppose no man can forget what he now is when he speaks of what he once was. He can only hope to remember what were, for many of us, happier times, softer days, when moments without hardness were like leaves on the trees.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Review

Travis Erwin has posted a very nice review of Swords of Talera over on his blog, and I much appreciate it. I didn't even have to pay him. Travis is working on a manuscript called Plundered Booty, which many of us are hoping to see published soon.

For other comments, I just have to say what a gorgeous place the area around our Abita Springs home is. The Azaleas are blooming everywhere. Most are a gorgeous dark pink, but there are quite a few different shades, including a wonderful red. There is purple wisteria in the trees, several varieties of white flowers, and some lovely yellow flowers in the woods whose name escapes me right now. It's Carolina something or other. Add to that a lot of wildflowers in the ditches, the crimson clover bordering many of the roads, and the budding maples and dogwoods and you have a world clad in festival clothes.

Life is pretty good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Biopunk: A referral post

Today I'm just going to refer you to something that I found very interesting. It's a post by William Jones about Biopunk. Biopunk appears to be a particular type of post-apocalyptic fiction, in which the apocalypse is brought on by some kind of biological pandemic. I suggested in my comments to William's post that The Stand by Stephen King might be an early example of this relatively unknown genre.

I also suggested that post-apocalyptic fiction in general arises out of the fact that humans, alone of all the species on earth, know absolutely from early on that we will die, and because we also have a strong suspicion that our civilization itself and the whole human race will eventually die as well. In fact, I think this is a driving force behind much of what humans do, but that probably needs to be expanded in a longer post.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Books Read, and BabelCon

The Contest is still running, but I thought it time for another post. I probably won’t post a lot this coming week since we have more job candidates in and I have tests. I really enjoyed most of my week off, although I was pretty sick from last Sunday through Tuesday. I got a lot of reading done and plenty of sleep, though, and a fair amount of writing. I managed to visit blogs every day. Here’s what I read:

The Narrows by Michael Connelly. This is the first book I’ve read by him. It featured a recurring character named Harry Bosch, who is a private detective in this story and who stumbles upon the key to a serial killer case. The book is a sequel to a book called The Poet, the “Poet” being the serial killer. I liked the book and will read others of his. However, he did one thing that bothered me, although I got used to it over time. Part of the book is told in first person by Bosch, but parts are told in third person and feature the character Rachel Walling, an FBI agent who has dealt with the Poet before. Although the book was enjoyable, I was disconcerted by the switching from first to third person.

Then I got on a western kick and read He Rode Alone by Steve Frazee and Gunsmoke by Wade Hamilton. Both were enjoyable. I also started Three Rode South by Jake Foster, but only made it 8 pages before abandoning it. The lesson, don’t make your first 8 pages consist primarily of an info dump of background information. There was even the dreaded “as you know” type dump. That happened on page 2.

Continuing with the western theme, I’ve started All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully written, but it took me 25 pages to figure out what the hell was happening. McCarthy doesn’t make it easy on you. I’m around 100 pages now and it’s going pretty well, although I wish he’d stop being a "literary writer" long eough to use quotation marks around his dialogue. There’s no sense in it. Still, the prose itself makes the read worth some effort.

In other news, I’ll be a guest at this year’s Babel Con, in Baton Rouge. They’ve talked me into doing three presentations, which I’ve listed below. Join us if you can.

Alien Evolution II
Most of the Aliens that stalk popular science fiction films and TV are based on earth-like forms, especially reptiles and mammals. True aliens would be quite different, although there are some earth forms that might make good models for filmmakers and writers to follow. Come join a presentation and discussion about what is wrong, and right, about the way creative artists currently feature aliens, and about how an understanding of actual evolution could help us develop better extraterrestrials.

Blessed With Nightmares - Using Dreams to Enhance Creativity
Besides being fun for us all, dreams and nightmares contain both imagery and meaning that can help creative artists and writers ignite their imaginations. But first you have to remember them. This presentation will talk about the biological and psychological basis of dreams and dream disorders, suggest some ways for people to improve their recall of dreams, and also discuss where the meaning comes from in dreams.

Beyond Fear - The Psychology of Terror
Some people like scary stories while others hate them. Why the differences? And for those who like scary stuff, what is the attraction? This presentation will discuss a trilogy of dark emotions: Fear, Horror, and Terror. How are they similar, and different? And what are the biological and psychological forces that underlie them? Finally, how can these emotions be used to help writers and other creative artists strengthen their work?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pay it Forward Contest

OK, quite a while back I won Sarai’s “Pay It Forward” contest and now I need to run my own. Like Angie, who also won, I’m going to do it a bit different.

The Rules:

Comment to this post between now and April 6 and include the following information: the words “Contest Entry,” and your favorite “title” of a book, story, or poem. That's all! My favorite title, for example, is, “I have No Mouth, and I must Scream.”

After the deadline, I’ll put everyone’s name into a hat and draw two winners, and will announce them on this blog. Winners pay it forward by running some variation of this contest on their own blogs.

The Prizes:
Each winner can select one of the following:

1. Support New Writers -- Pick a writer whose book was first published in either 2007or 2008. Either mass market or trade paperback. And I’ll send it to you. $20 dollar limit please.

2. Try Something from Me -- Pick one of my novels, and I’ll send it to you. That would be Cold in the Light, Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera, or Witch of Talera. Cold in the Light is a horror thriller. The others consist of a fantasy trilogy, so if you haven’t read any of them you might want to start with “Swords.”

3. Try Something Sallis – Pick anything by James Sallis under $20 bucks and I’ll send it to you. His books are listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I will purchase the book from Barnes & Noble unless it is unavailable there.

4. Pick something under $20 bucks from the following writers and I’ll send it to you. Wayne Allen Sallee, C. S. Harris (or Candice Proctor), Farrah Rochon, Laura Joh Rowland, Sidney Williams, O’Neil De Noux, James Reasoner, David Lanoue, Bret Funk, Rexanne Becnel, Del Stone Jr. If you’re wondering how I generated this list, well I know a lot of writers so I had to limit the list somehow, and these are all folks I’ve met face to face and have had a beer, or other type of beverage, with. They’re all fine writers, as well as my friends.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"A City Equal to My Desire"

A City Equal to My Desire is a collection of stories harking back to James Sallis’s early days as a writer of speculative fiction and SF, although all were produced after 1998. The book's front and back cover blurbs suggest that the collection is primarily crime and mystery fiction, which is where James is best known today, but only about a third of the stories are actually crime tales. The rest are speculative fiction and include pieces published in Asimov’s, Fantasy and SF, and Talebones.

In keeping with the marketing, the first two stories in the collection actually are crime fiction. They include “Ukulele and the World’s Pain,” which I thought was the weakest tale in the collection, and the excellent “Drive,” which Sallis later expanded into a novella of the same name that I believe is one of the best noir thrillers ever written.

For me, however, the true gems in the collection are the speculative stories, especially “Roofs and Forgiveness in the Early Dawn,” about an unusual alien invasion, “Pitt’s World,” which tells the story of a survivor of a spaceship crash, and “Telling Lives,” about a writer who has discovered a niche for himself in writing biographies of everyday people. Another great story is "Day’s Heat,” which features an unusually close set of triplets and ties with “Roofs and Forgiveness…” for my personal favorites.

Wonderful characters and character interactions are Sallis's strengths, but we also find lovely language and beautiful imagery. Be aware, however, that these are literary quality stories and the endings may not be as clear cut as some genre readers would prefer. Since I love Sallis's creativity and verve, I don't mind the lack of neat and tidy endings. His characters are alive and his tales stir both the emotions and the imagination. I highly recommend them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Post on Creationism

This will be my last post on Creationism for a while. I hope I didn't bore everyone too much but it was fresh in my mind from the project I'm working on. Below, I give you the most open minded approach yet mentioned.

Theistic Evolutionists: That there is no necessity for conflict between science and religion is shown by the existence of theistic evolutionists. These people are creationists, and evolutionists. They believe that God set the universe in motion but that He works through natural processes that were encoded into the universe at the beginning. Natural selection and other evolutionary processes are examples. The majority of professional scientists in the United States who are believers in God would fall into this category.

However, there are subtypes even here. Many theistic evolutionists believe that God can and does occasionally intervene in the natural affairs of the world. This would allow for miracles, although they would be rare events. However, some theistic evolutionists are also “Deists.” Deists place great store on the ability to “reason” and do not believe that God intervenes in his creation. The universe was set to run in a particular way and God leaves it alone to do so. Thus, Deists would be unlikely to pray for God to directly intervene in their lives, as in to cure some illness, while non-Deist theistic evolutionists (say that three times fast) might well do so.

Surprisingly to some, theistic evolution, although not of the Deist subtype, is actually the officially sanctioned view of the Catholic Church and many mainstream Protestant religions, as well as of many Jewish people. With this viewpoint, there is no conflict between science and religion because no line is drawn in the sand. Churches reserve spiritual matters for themselves and leave physical explanations of the world to science. Science as it exists now simply cannot adequately investigate supernatural phenomena because they are—-by definition—-outside of nature. At the same time, science, with its slow but ultimately self-correcting approach, is the only method thus devised by human beings to uncover ultimate physical truths.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Form of Creationism

Here's another type of creationism that I thought I'd share with you from my research.

Gap Creationists: There is much more variability among adherents of this group than among young-earth creationists. Many members of this group accept that science has proven the earth to be very old, but they still generally want to interpret the Bible literally. The result is the concept of the “gap.” Essentially, gap believers think there has been both a creation and a “recreation,” and that the period between these two is not recorded in the Bible and could be very long. Humans appeared only in the “recreation.” There is debate about exactly when the “gap” occurs in the Bible, but it is definitely before the “fall of man,” meaning when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Gap creationism is one type of “old-earth” creationism.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Creationism Versus

This may seem like a rather weird post but I'm working on a non-fiction book about the conflict between evolutionists and creationists, and I've been doing a lot of reading lately on the creationist positions. (There are more than one.) Last night I was working on a section on Young-Earth creationists and I thought I'd post it here.

Why you ask? Two reasons. 1) I think it's pretty interesting that folks can hold the Young-Earth view despite the evidence against it. 2) I do not want to give a false or misleadingly negative description of anyone's views. So, if you happen to know anything about this issue, please let me know if you feel I've misrepresented anything in my description of the Young-Earth viewpoint. I want to get it right.

The term “Creationist” is often used to designate people who believe that God created the universe, the Earth, and human beings in pretty much the form that these things exist in now. Creationists are often depicted as accepting the Bible literally, not only as a guide to how humans should live, but as an actual history of the universe and its life forms. These commonly held beliefs about creationists are incredible oversimplifications. I want to talk here about some of the different viewpoints within the creationist camp.

Adherents of the young-earth view most closely resemble the stereotype that people at large have of creationists in general. Although there is variability even here, most young-earth creationists accept a literal interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Genesis for the creation of earth. They believe that God took six literal days to do the work, and that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. This date is arrived at by counting the generations listed in the Bible. They also tend to support the Biblical report of an earth-wide flood, which is thought to have happened about 4,000years ago.

One of the most outspoken proponents of young-earth creationism is Duane Gish, an American who is trained as a biochemist, although his work for the past few decades has been outside the laboratory and in the creationist arena. Gish, who is also considered to be a fundamentalist Baptist, denies that evolution meets the criteria for a scientific theory, and urges the teaching of “Creation Science” in the classroom. This would include teaching the “young” age of the earth, and that most “fossils” are the remnants of animals killed in Noah’s flood. He is currently affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Much To Do

Really feeling pretty swamped today so only a brief post. I may not be making the rounds of everyone's blog for a day or two as well. We have job candidates interviewing this week, as well as many other things to deal with.

The picture is the cover to an anthology that should be coming out in April. I have a humorous fantasy story in it called "Mirthgar." I'll be posting more about it as the publication time arrives. Also, The Illuminata will be publishing it's first issue on its new bimonthly schedule within a few days. I'll announce it when it happens but I'll have a piece in there on Front and Back loading of information in stories. I'm pretty sure that Bret, the editor, is still looking for reviewers for the newsletter so if you like reading and reviewing SF, Fantasy, and horror, you might check it out.

Have a great day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Flashback Corner

I thought I hated poetry when I was a kid. It wasn't until I discovered Poe and Dylan Thomas in college that I came to understand how powerful the medium could be. I never wrote what I thought of as poetry in high school, but I did write song lyrics, mostly for the band Crash, which I sang with, or sometimes just for myself. Only two full sets of lyrics survive from that period of my life. Below are the words to a song called "She's a Killer," which I eventually sold as a poem.


Everywhere I look in the darkness, I see her watching me
Faded scarlet on her lips, dry chalk in her face
Eyes of need that beg into mine
A kiss so sharp it pricks like wine
Only wish I'd seen in time

She's a killer

Beneath the moonlight, her hands reach out to capture me
Ivory thorns in her hair, dark wind at her back
Open those lips and the room goes cold
What she offers? A body unsouled
All the deaths that were foretold

She's a killer

In the pearl of dawn, the dreams she gives come to life
Gleaming tears in her eyes leave fangs in my mind
Screaming to white, I await being taken
Heart twisted shut and breath so shaken
By all the memories her teeth awaken

I'm a killer

Today, poetry is a big part of my life. I love reading it and writing it, and it is a very big influence on my prose style. How about you? Do we have any poetryophiles out there? Do you have a favorite poem? Or do you hate poetry? Do you have miles to go before you'll cross the road to read a poem? The poets want to know. They're keeping a list. ;)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Information Overload

Curious about exactly what an info dump is? Well, here's one from page 18 of the hardback edition of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown:

“The new entrance to the Paris Louvre had become almost as famous as the museum itself. The controversial neomodern glass pyramid designed by Chinese-born American architect I. M. Pei still evoked scorn from traditionalists who felt it destroyed the dignity of the Renaissance courtyard. Goethe had described architecture as frozen music, and Pei’s critics described this pyramid as fingernails on a chalkboard. Progressive admirers, though, hailed Pei’s seventy-one-foot-tall transparent pyramid as a dazzling synergy of ancient structure and modern method--a symbolic link between the old and new…”

Many writers, including myself, dislike info dumps. They smack of laziness, and most of the time the information works better when it's integrated into the storyline and doesn’t call attention to itself. However, many readers don’t seem to mind info dumps. In fact, some readers seem to enjoy the chance to learn tidbits they didn’t know before, even if it interrupts the flow of a story or is irrelevant to a story.

As a reader myself, if the information is interesting I hardly notice an info dump, but when they are boring I quickly start to squirm. I like learning stuff, but I'm not reading a novel primarily to be educated. (I read nonfiction for that.) I want to be entertained first and foremost. I didn’t feel that the passage from Brown was a good one. There’s a lot of information but I frankly didn’t find much of it interesting, and it really slowed the story's pace. Plus, it had nothing to do with the plot and never showed up again. Other than the fact that the main character will go through the entrance to the Louvre to get into the museum where things will happen, none of this information has anything to do with the story.

So how do you feel about "info dumps?" As a writer? As a reader?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More Poul Anderson

I suppose most have heard that Gary Gygax died. He was co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve never played the game, and haven’t read anything by Gygax, but I know he had a big following and was a big popularizer of fantasy. Thus I raise a toast to him.

As for my post today, it’s more on Poul Anderson (1926-2001). I don’t want to bore folks but I wanted to mention some of his other books that I really enjoyed. I’m not discussing his Dominic Flandry series, which is exclusively SF, but I did very much enjoy that series. If you want to know more about it specifically, check here

The Broken Sword is probably the best book Anderson ever wrote. It’s a mixture of High Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery. The High Fantasy part comes because of its setting in the magic land of Faerie, and the fact that most of the major characters are elves and trolls. However, there is also a lot of the good bloody action that usually characterizes Sword & Sorcery more. The Broken Sword is the story of Skafloc, a human child stolen and raised by elves, and of Valgard, the half-elf/half-troll who replaces Skafloc as a changeling. It also involves Skafloc's sister, who unknowingly falls in love with Skafloc. It evokes the "otherworldliness" of Fairie very well, and there are some strong battle scenes. The prose is just beautiful. It shows some similarities to the work of both Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock, but I suspect most of the similarities occur because all three writers drew on similar source material from Norse and British myths.

Hrolf Kraki's Saga: Despite the name, only a small part of this book is about Hrolf Kraki, and he only gets the name Kraki toward the end. This is a good book, though, quite similar stylistically to ¬The Broken Sword¬. It even includes another incest twist. "Kraki's Saga" is much more ambitious, however, which is good in some ways and not so good in others. I would classify it as Sword and Sorcery because it focuses primarily on human heroes, though there are various half-breeds and some other supernatural entities to be found here. The Broken Sword¬ is simpler and more emotionally touching. But Anderson really does not write bad books and I liked this one quite a bit, too. When Anderson describes the northern world he is just fantastic. There is also has a powerful and well-done climactic battle, a trademark of Anderson’s work.

Fantasy is an excellent collection of Anderson's short fiction, with a non-fiction essay or two thrown in as bonus. Among the strongest stories are "A Logical Conclusion," which is interplanetary adventure (read Sword & Planet) at its best, "Superstition," which is about a future governed by "scientific" magic and is one of the more memorable tales I've read, and "Interloper," about someone surprising who saves Earth. The last story is also notable in that it has a character named "Kane" in it. The book also contains the excellent, and somewhat famous, essay "On Thud and Blunder," which is a succinct lesson that any would-be fantasy writer ought to read. There is also Anderson's contribution to the "Longbore the Inexhaustible" genre of humorous fantasy. That story is called "The Barbarian," and features one "Cronkheit." I found it considerable funnier than most such tales, but still not that good in comparison to his serious work. This collection is apparently hard to find. My copy is Tor 1981.

The Queen of Air and Darkness collects more of Anderson’s stories. It is superb, and the title story is one of my all time favorite Anderson tales and has made my short list of the best all time SF/Fantasy stories ever. It is only partially an SF story, and far more fantasy, and is tremendous both in style and in content/plot. Of the other five stories in the book, only "The Faun" seems rather slight, though I did enjoy it. The rest of the stories are good, but not nearly as powerful as the title tale.

Two other good fantasy works by Anderson are The High Crusade, which is a humorous look at 14th century humans getting loose in the universe with a captured spaceship, and Three Hearts and Three Lions, which follows a modern (1950s) earthman who is cast onto a parallel Earth where fantasy and magic are real. I liked both books, but the latter is by far the better.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Poul Anderson Recalled

One of my favorite authors is much forgotten these days, so I thought I might take a few posts to refresh people’s memories. This is Poul Anderson (1926-2001). Anderson wrote both fantasy and SF with ease, although I personally prefer his fantasy. One of his fantasy series has been on my mind of late. This is his Last Viking trilogy, consisting of The Golden Horn, The Road of the Seahorse, and The Sign of the Raven, all published in 1980 by Zebra books.

These books tell the story of Harald Sigurdharson, better known as Harald Hardrede, who is sometimes called "the real-life Conan." The books are based on as true a history as Anderson could put together from many sources, and though he admitted taking some liberties, he believed that the books were very close to a true picture of Hardrede and his times. The books often do read more as history than fiction.

Hardrede certainly makes a good historical model for Conan. He was born from the blood of Kings, which is different than Conan. And he was never a thief, as Conan was. But he was definitely a reaver and a man of great mirths and melancholies. He was a lover of drink, and of many women--he took two to wife--and he was, quite probably, the greatest warrior of his age. It is said that he was seven feet tall and that he fought with an axe. And even in his fifties he was powerful in battle and always in the forefront. None could top him.

In his youth, Hardrede was much traveled and was quick with languages. Near the age of 15, but already as tall as most men, Harald fought in a battle in which his King and the King's army was cut to pieces. He was one of the few that lived (sounds like Conan), and afterward he traveled to Russia where he lead men in battle for the first time. From there he went to Constantinople where he served the empire and became chief of the Varangian Guard, which was made up of fair-haired northern warriors. He made a name for himself and earned much wealth, which he put to good use in later years when he returned to the north and made himself King of Norway.

Hardrede wanted to be King and yet he chafed at the restraints this placed on him. He was ambitious. He dreamed of a northern empire that no one could break, and he wanted a place for his sons to rule after him. And yet, he also dreamed simply of exploring, of seeing Vinland, or of finding out what lay north of his lands, over the curve of the world. He even took ships into the arctic, though ice turned him back in the only major defeat he ever suffered. Save for his last.

Harald Hardrede died trying to conquer England. He fell at the battle of Stamford Bridge, warring against overwhelming odds, and this was chronicled in the trilogy’s third volume. Anderson did a great job “showing” this battle, making you feel the sweat and the exhaustion, making you smell the blood and hear the shock of shields on shields and axes against flesh.

I remember when I finished the battle scene, I put the book down and just sat quietly for a long time. Hardrede's standard was a raven banner called Landwaster, and it seemed that I could hear the snap of it in the wind behind my head. Though there was no wind in the modern office where I sat.

I tell myself, as an enlightened 21st century man, that war is a nasty and evil thing. That there is no good way to die. I know how desperately I would pray that my son be spared such pain. My rational mind knows that glory is a fleeting thing and not worth its price in pillaged lands and fatherless children, or in trampled fields and dead kine. But sometimes there is a thing in my soul that doesn't quite believe it. I don't like that in myself. But I can't deny it.

I close my eyes and think of frost glittering on spears, of streaming light flashing from helmets and mail and the broad hilts of swords. I think of warhorses, of steam bleeding from their nostrils and their eyes wild. I think of the tramping boots of warriors, and the shock of battle lines coming together beneath black and red banners. I can see the axes, their edges turned copper with gore, and the sleeting drench of arrows. I can hear the whisper of steel, like tearing silk, and the white din of weapons and armor and hate.

And God help me, I think of Harald Hardrede and say: "There was a man."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Quick Notes n Updates

It's a beautiful day here so I'm probably going to get out and do some walking, but I thought I might mention a couple of quick things.

Unified SciFi Forums is no more. I was the horror moderator for several years at the site and met some good folks and made some good friends. Visits there had been declining for some time and when they ended up with a software problem that would be costly to fix they decided to shut down. I've taken them off my links. I'll miss 'em, but nothing hangs around forever.

The March issue of Niteblade is out, with a poem by me called "Recompense Reprise." I believe you can click on the link below the cover and get to a page where you can read some of the material for free, including my piece. This is a great magazine, though, something like 133 pages of material, so if you like Fantasy, Horror and SF check it out.

I'm thinking about a post I want to do on "Front Loading" versus "Back Loading." In a novel one can spread the needed "explanations" of plot across the entire book, but in short stories this material often clusters at the beginning or the end. For example, the story I'm working on right now has more back loading than front, and want to give this pattern a bit more thought.

In the meantime, I hope it's gorgeous where you are. If so, get out and breathe.