Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gone and Done It

I mentioned here a while back that I was considering a new car. I went and bought one on Wednesday. It's a 211 Hyundai Elantra, sort of bluish purple as you can see in the pics.

My 2005 Toyota Scion TC was closing in on 118,000 miles, and although it was still running well it was going to need new brakes, a new battery, and a number of other bits of work done pretty soon. It was nothing that couldn't be fixed and I liked that car a lot. I'd grown attached. But...the Elantra gets 40 miles to the gallon while the Scion got around 28, and the Elantra has a much bigger gas tank, which means fewer fill up stops. I commute, as most of you know, and with gas going up I decided it was time for just such a new vehicle. In addition, Lana and are taking a long road trip as soon as school is out and I kind of wanted to go ahead and get a new car before that. The Elantra is a four door and has almost twice the head room and storage room as the Scion. And, as a new car it has all kinds of built in auxilary ports, Ipod docks, USB ports, and electrical plug ins so we can haul our laptops along on our trip and keep up with the world. It still looks sporty.

The Scion was probably the "best" car I ever had in many ways, and the Elantra is going to have to go well to beat it, but so far I'm pretty pleased with it. There was one glitch. On my way home from the dealer I set my radio preferences and the clock, but when I went out later to show it to Lana all my presets were gone and my keyless entry device didn't work. I was worried that I already had some electrical problem, but it turned out after some research that the dealer had forgotten to set one of the fuse box buttons to the "on" position and that took care of it.

Best of all, with trade in, I only paid about $15,000 for the Elantra. And it came with free satellite radio, for three months at least. I've been much enjoying listening to Liquid Metal, the metal only station, and to "Hair World," which plays only 80s so called hair metal bands. A new car is kinda nice, I gotta say.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ember Star

A character popped into my head last night as I commuted home across the Causeway Bridge. She didn't come fully formed but she came with two scenes that helped me characterize her. And she came with a name. I just don't know whether I should stay with that name or not.

I've been wanting for a while to do a high action SF type story featuring a female protagonist. I've written female protagonists in short stories of the fantasy and horror type, but never for an action adventure story. Those thoughts rattling around in my head must have coalesced last night.

Scene 1: A woman, looking to be in her late 20s, is sitting on the edge of a bed with one half flat pillow and some wadded sheets. She's got blonde hair, shoulder length, very tangled. She's wearing a black t-shirt, what looks like men's boxers, and a single white sock. The echoes of a knock on her door still hang in the room. She's rubbing her face with one hand and she doesn't look happy. Last night
involved liquor it would seem.

Scene 2: The same woman, wearing camouflage BDUs and black combat boots, is stepping over a puddle of vomit in a cluttered alley behind a bar that looks dark and empty. She goes up a short set of steps to a rather rickety door, and she's carrying a blaster in her right hand. She puts a hand to the door, blaster ready, then pauses as she hears a faint sound from inside.

And now the name. The name that popped into my head was Ember Starr. I got a thought that she was somehow distantly related to Belle Starr, although this story would be set pretty far in the future. Something about the name resonates with me, although it sounds upon first hearing to be kind of cliche. I was thinking the name might be a possible source of some comic relief, as she gets asked by some guy if that's her porn name and then proceeds to make sure the guy'll never enjoy porn again. I also get the feeling that she's a bit of a contrarian, and though she started out in life hating the name her mother gave her, she's now decided to lay claim to it.

Anyway, these are some preliminary thoughts. Any comments? What about the name? Too cliche? Does it create the wrong sense of the woman? Is it ok you think to play the character off against the name?

Just asking.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Work, Life, and Novel Spaces

Work and life have been moving at near light speed for me the past couple of weeks and show little possibility of slowing down soon. I'll have a report on my LA SF Con experience later this week, but in the meantime this is my day to post over at Novel Spaces and the post I wrote for that last week is up this morning. Hope you'll drop by if you get the chance.

Novel Spaces

Friday, March 25, 2011

LA SF and Costuming Fest

Saturday, March 26, 2011: I'll be at the Louisiana Science Fiction and Costuming Festival all Saturday, and probably some Sunday as well. It's in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is a little over an hour drive from me. I won't likely get around to blogs again until Monday, but I'm sure everyone will survive.

I know most of you don't live anywhere near Baton Rouge, but if you should do so and feel the need for an excursion, you can check out all the relevant information at the con WEBSITE.

I'll be setting on panels about fanzines new and old, about horror movies, about Science Fiction TV shows, the best and the worst, and about Dreams and Nightmares. Otherwise I'll be hanging out talking to friends and other writers and I'm sure someone will have a bottle around.

Take care,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Writing Day

Sometimes I really appreciate my university. Xavier has a policy whereby each semester one of our Psych department faculty members gets a lighter load so that they can work on a scholarly project. The lighter load typically means teaching 3 rather than 4 classes, but for me it means teaching only 2 because I already have 1 course reduced load due to being chair of the Xavier IRB research committee.

We rotate the light semester among our departmental members and this semester is my turn. I love it so. I have my classes scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I already have meetings scheduled on Thursday and often we have meetings on Tuesday, but every couple of weeks I will have a completely free Tuesday and I stay home that day and write. Yesterday was such a day. And I got so much accomplished.

I'm working on the nonfiction Darwin book that I've mentioned here before. I was able to get about a dozen pages written, which is actually tremendous progress considering that, with nonfiction, you're often spending half of your time or more checking and double checking facts and information.

On a standard day, I try to do some writing at home in the evening after dinner, but it's not always easy when you've already put in a full day of work. But yesterday I was rolling so well and so "immersed" in the work I was doing that I took only about an hour break for dinner and then was back at the computer writing until well after 11:00.

I think that is a key thing when one is able to essentially write full-time. The work develops momentum. You enter a productive zone where the ideas and the words to express them flow. And you don't want to stop. I knew I had to get up at 6:00 this morning but the sentences kept coming, the connections kept being made. And my fingers got a workout.

Finally, at 11:20, I purposefully shut off my computer because I knew I had to get some sleep. Only then did I realize that I'd ignored several minor tasks all day that needed to be done. I managed to get those finished and slid into bed by 11:45, but I couldn't shut my brain off. My mind kept coming back to the writing I'd been doing and more ideas gathered to demand my attention. I believe it was about 1:00 when I finally drifted off.

Although I only got 5 hours sleep, I'm still feeling pretty energized at this moment from yesterday's work session. I know by afternoon I'll be dragging, but right now I'm not worried about that. Unfortunately, I give a test in my comparative class today and that means grading instead of writing this evening. I'll be jonesing for the keyboard soon, and already looking forward to the next day when I can immerse myself in the flow of words and ideas. It really is a high.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SF/Fantasy Con, and Books

On Saturday, March 26th, I’ll be a guest at the Louisiana Science Fiction and Costuming Festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’ll probably also be there some on Sunday. On Saturday I’m going to be talking about Dreams and Nightmares and sitting on panels about Fanzines, Horror Films, and Sci Fi Films. It looks to be a lot of fun so if you get a chance drop by. The con website is here.

Some of you may possibly remember me remarking toward the end of 2010 about how I was so behind on reading that I was going to cut back on buying books for a while. Ha ha ha haha hahahhahaha. HA! Below is a sample of ‘some’ of the books I’ve bought since saying that. This is all fiction and doesn’t include the some $300 bucks I spent on nonfiction at Borders’ Going out of Business Sale. I absolutely cannot stop.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Softer Side

Most everyone who visits here knows the kind of music I like. 1. Heavy. 2. Loud. 3. Often fast. 4. Did I mention Heavy?

I don’t really get into lyrics. In fact, I own quite a few CDs or albums (large round disks made of vinyl with music embedded in them) in which the singing is in German or Japanese or Spanish or Portuguese. I’m perfectly happy with them.

One of my perennial favorites, which meets all the primary criteria, is “Fight from the Inside” by Queen. Now Queen is not a metal band, but this song has a serious case of the heavies. My only problem with it is that at 3:00 minutes it’s way too short. I used to have a tape I made for myself in which I recorded it four times, one after another, so that I could get a good fix.
Queen: Fight from the Inside

Black Sabbath is the prototype for this kind of music, and most of you will know of such songs as War Pigs, Iron Man, Paranoid, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Good stuff. But for an example of this type that you may not know, I’ve linked to Celtic Frost’s “Procreation of the Wicked.” If you don’t like metal you might just want to get a flavor and then go back to your regularly scheduled programming. If you’re like me you’ll get all goose-bumpy and play it over at least twice.
Celtic Frost: Procreation of the Wicked.

But do you know that I have a softer side? Yes, I do. The two songs linked below, Wasp’s “Sleeping in the Fire” and Ted Nugent’s “Together” are slow pieces that never fail to get to me emotionally.
WASP: Sleeping in the Fire
Ted Nugent: Together

The other two, “In This River” by Black Label Society and “Hurt” as sung by Johnny Cash, tear me up. I can only listen to them occasionally. They always leave me melancholy. I played them a lot in the days just before and after my mother died. That was March 21, 2010.
Black Label Society: In This River
Johnny Cash: Hurt


Monday, March 14, 2011

Despairing of the Human Race

I'm thankful for my blogging friends. You give me hope that the human race is worthwhile after all. Sometimes I'm not so sure. I saw on Facebook where one of the joke writers for the cartoon series Family Guy sent out a twitter comment that said: "If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, Google "Pearl Harbor death toll".

I'm not mentioning the guy's name because I don't support that kind of thing. But just seeing that comment was enough to make me want to return my human card. Then I looked at a couple of sites where this tweet was being discussed and my dislike for the human race in general went way up.

The guy probably meant his original comment as a joke. He was going for a quick, lazy laugh and didn’t want to put any effort into it. But not only wasn’t it funny, it was horrifically cruel to a people who have lost thousands of their own and are in the midst of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. I would think that we all could get behind the fact that the guy who said it was being an asshole, at least at the time he said it, and from what I understand he has made an apology. The worst part, though, was the outpouring of troll behavior in the commenters.

One person said that this kind of comment was typical of liberals and several others joined in with tirades against the evils of liberals. Someone even suggested that this is the kind of thing that happens when you have someone like Obama as president. Now, I have no idea if the guy who made the tweet is a liberal or a conservative as far as politics are concerned, or whether he voted for Obama or not. I also don’t care. He said an asshole thing, no matter what else he “is” or has done. Others added their agreement to the tweet, saying things like the Japanese deserved what they got and how “karma is a bitch.” Frankly, I don’t want to be human in a population that includes people like this.

Take every race, every country, every creed, and you’ll find they’ve done evil things. The Japanese no more “deserve” this than the Gulf Coast deserved Katrina, or New York deserved September 11, or Poland deserved Hitler. A tragedy has occurred, and if you can’t help then at least don’t try to make it worse.

Rant over.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Guest Post, at Tyrannosaurus Press

I've got another guest post up today, over at the Tyrannosaurus Press blog. If you get a chance, please drop by. I've linked the direct address for my post.

My post is also still up at Novel Spaces as well, on "Vampires and Sex," if you haven't seen it. It'll probably be the second one down from the top.

I will eventualy post something substantive here on my own blog. I promise. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Love in the Ruins

There were seven bells ringing, three of iron, three of brass—one of silver. Their sound was as chaotic and cold as the wind that blew at Kainja's back, as sharp and dark as the scimitar shapes of the mountain vultures circling above his head in the dimming sky of evening. Those vultures had a purpose here, but it wasn't that they were waiting for him to die. That would have been futile. They were waiting for him to leave so they could settle again to the feast he had interrupted.

Framing the meticulously ordered canvas of the dead that lay before him were a monastery's ruins. Smoke helices lifted over broken walls and orange and black kites fluttered on the ground like raped angels. A row of stone monkeys had lost their heads. Even worse was the water cistern filled with blood, a conspicuous waste. Someone had created a sadistic landscape here. They had done it deliberately, out of some need or passion that Kainja did not understand and which horrified him. And the worst thing of all was that only one person could be responsible, the woman Kainja loved more than anyone else living in the world.
---- ---- ----

This is a little piece of a story called “Wanting the Mouth of a Lover.” The vampire Kainja visits the Himalayas and finds an old enemy and an old lover, and for a while it seems they may both be the same person.

There are three Kainja stories in Midnight in Rosary. The other two are “In a Cold of Snow and Ghosts,” and “Vessel for the Holy.” All of them appeared first in Prisoners of the Night, the anthology series edited by the inimitable Alayne Gelfand. There’s a secret about Kainja that is revealed in “Wanting the Mouth of a Lover.” I won’t tell you what it is but someday I hope some of you will tell me! :)

Barnes & Noble

Friday, March 04, 2011

Tales of Crimson and Black

Midnight in Rosary...............

Tales of Crimson and Black...................

Predation is in the bones, in the marrow. Even when sated a carnivore will still hunt. It wants the wet taste of life, the sweetness of watermelon flesh. Its need to kill isn't rational. And it won't be denied its blood.

Midnight in Rosary is out. It was released yesterday and I’ve finally had a moment to savor and appreciate it. I’m proud of this collection of vampire and werewolf tales. Naturally I’d like everyone to read it. But I want you to know in case you do that it’s a little different than the other stuff you may have read by me.

These stories are not heroic fantasy like the Talera novels or Bitter Steel. Some of them are horror, although not as graphic as Cold in the Light. Most would be defined as dark fantasy or Urban Fantasy. And there is quite a lot of sex, which ranges from the graphic to the romantic. The characters in these stories are much more conflicted than Ruenn MacLang (Talera) or Thal Kyrin (Bitter Steel). They carry a lot more doubt around with them. Many of them have made bad mistakes and they are paying for those mistakes every day. With their blood. With their souls.

Here are some of the story titles:

Wanting the Mouth of a Lover
The Cold of Snow and Ghosts
In Memory of the Sun
The Poetry of Blood
River Road; Night Music
Innocent Little Sin

If you’d like to read the book, you can find it at:

Barnes & Noble

Or Amazon:

It’s a bit cheaper at Barnes & Noble at the moment.

And I hope you’ll bear with me while I talk about the book more over the next few days.

Best wishes to all,

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bikes Today

Lana and I bought bikes today. I like to describe them as old people bikes. They're "Huffy's," with big, cushiony seats, high handlebars, and no gear shifts. We also bought some accessories.

We first went to a specialty bike store to look at bikes. They had them, but they didn't have one to fit Lana, and even the old folks bikes ran between 330 and 550 bucks each. Their specialty bikes generally ran over 2 grand. We'd not planned on spending that much so we broke down and went to one of those discount stores where we got our two Huffys, an air pump, two locks, a basket for Lana's cameras, and an all in one tool set for less than 300 total. I like to support independent stores, but we probably saved 700 dollars and that's not exactly chump change to me.

Anyway, we're looking forward to our first ride this evening, and the weather is perfect for it here today.

In reading news, I'm reading and enjoying three of the Chuck Norris "fact" books by Ian Spector. I've seen this stuff around but when Borders had their going out of business sale I picked 'em up fairly cheaply and they are pretty funny.

I'm also reading two fine works by blog colleagues, "Resonance" by Avery Debow, and "The Ravening" by Stewart Sternberg. I'll have reviews of those up when I'm finished. I'm certainly enjoying so far.

Nuff said. Let's go ride.