Friday, May 27, 2016

Nonfiction Summer

So far this summer I've been working on something unusual for me in summer writing. I've been revising a nonfiction manuscript on evolution that I first completed about five years ago. My original plan had been to write a far reaching treatise on evolution versus creationism. The science part of that book came relatively easily.Oh, there was a lot of research to do, but I already had a pretty good grounding in the field and the information was straightforward.

The religious side of this discussion, though, proved to be a nightmare that I struggled for a couple of years to wade through. There were certainly disagreements to discuss on the scientific side, but there is so much more variability on the religious side. I read widely and learned a lot, and a good section of that part of the book is done. There's still a lot more to cover though.

In the meantime, I've been teaching a class called Comparative and Evolutionary psychology at Xavier for the past ten years. A few years back, I started using the scientific part of my book as a supplemental text in the class. It has gone over pretty well.

This year, I've essentially decided to cut my original book idea in half. I'm now working on turning the scientific section into a complete, standalone work discussing the history of evolutionary theory and what exactly the theory says. And then I'll seek a publisher for it. There will still be discussion of the creationist viewpoint in the book because some of it is tied up with the history of evolutionary theory. It's been there since the beginning. But the focus of the work is no longer on a compare and contrast of these two approaches.

My working title for the book is: Evolution: A Work in Progress. Here's the chapter outlines for the first two chapters. There will be 7 in all, and I'm doing the expansion on chapter 5 now.

Chapter 1. A Man and an Idea  ..........………………………….……   P.     
     A Book that Changed the World
     The Faithful React
     An Idea Whose Time had Come
     Darwin the Man

Chapter 2. Darwin’s Concept .............................................................    P.     
     Natural Selection
     Natural Selection in Action
     Natural Selection on the Galapagos Islands
     But Finches are Still Finches

     Addendum - The Age of Things

Friday, May 20, 2016

Harmland in Print

I originally did the ebook version of Harmland: dark tales, back in 2012. It was over 21,000 words but I didn’t feel—at the time—that was long enough for a print version. However, David Cranmer, over at Beat to a Pulp has shown what can be done with some really nice packaging at shorter lengths using a smaller size paperback format. I finally decided to go for it and Harmland is now available as a print book on Amazon for $6.99.

I used CreateSpace for the book and was a bit frustrated because they had changed everything since the last time I put up a book. I found the previous time very easy but this one was a pain. Still, Harlmand is up now, and while I’m not overly thrilled with the cover and cover fonts, I still think it’s pretty cool. I hope you’ll check it out.

This is a collection of noir and horror stories. Some of the contents are: "Whiskey, Guns, and Sin," "The Finest Cut," "The Grey Inside," "The Toad," and a modern Cthulhu Mythos tale called "The Vivarium."

Next up will be a print version of Killing Trail, my western collection. Coming soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What Went Wrong: Release Day

A new speculative fiction anthology is out today from Lit Select. It's called What Went Wrong, and is available at Smashwords in all kinds of formats for epub and Kindle. It is supposed to be up on Amazon itself soon. The stories run the gamut from SF to horror. I have a story in it called "Electric Love 'N Blue," which is primarily SF. The underlying concept of the collection is: "well-laid plans that go awry." This kind of broad concept led to a lot of variety in the tales, which I think is a pretty cool thing.

Here's the first paragraph of mine:

"Mistakes. Always mistakes, Ray Grant thought as he reviewed the Hollister file one more time with his Cerebral Symbot. If people were more like this Symbot, more like machines. If they just did what they were supposed to."

Of course, you know no one ever does what they are supposed to. Well, hardly ever. And in my story, even the ones who try to do so don't necessarily succeed. 

Below are the authors:

There are some other blogs around announcing this today as well, and doing a far more creative job than I have. Here's Jan M. Flynn, with samples and an interview with her, and the humorous (or is it) take of N.O.A. Rawles. Also see Gloria Weber.

Hope you get a chance to check them out.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Talons of the American Falcon

American Falcon: Quadrillion, is in the house, and its steel talons are firmly embedded in my skull. The first American Falcon CD is still in heavy rotation at my place, but now the new one will join it. We’re looking at more of the same kind of heavy rock as on CD #1. Solid, rhythmical, raise your T levels, straight-ahead rock and roll.  

From the opening riffs of the opening song, “Quadrillion,” I was throwing the horns.  Then there’s “Blood and Thunder,” which immediately calls up my favorite kind of pulp fiction, followed by the timely and hilarious “Dickhead Mountain.” Add “John Tanner,” “Strung,” “The Mountain,” and “Mexicus, which appears to be about a Mexican gladiator fighting in the Roman Coliseum. (I’d like to read that story.) There’s not a weak sister in the bunch.  I haven’t been through it enough yet to settle on a favorite but I’m sure that will come.

American Falcon is a power trio! Is that phrase still used? It fits, although there’s enough sound here to suggest a dozen players. Check out their page on Facebook. Their email address is there and I believe there’s a link where you can order the CD. I don’t think it’s available on Amazon yet, but the first album sure is and you couldn’t go wrong with that one.

Now it’s time for another listen!

Monday, May 09, 2016

A Poem in Progress

In a story recently I used the phrase "black shine," and most members of my writing group didn't like it because they had no idea what it meant or how to visualize it. But for me, the phrase is evocative and sensuous. It creates plenty of clear images for me. Anyway, I decided to try to capture the meaning of it for me in a poem, and below is a piece of that. It's not done yet. Who knows when it will be.

Black Shine

In the black shine
she waited with Wendigo eyes
and a pillow smile.

Wind had curled her hair,
had rouged her cheeks.
Gin had painted her lips.

The fingernails that scraped
her silks
spelled my name in Braille.

Black shine, dark soul

I am lost

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Just When I Think I'm Out

I never watched much of the Sopranos but I do remember one character who was always saying, "Just when I think I'm out, they drag me back in." School often seems like that for faculty members. Classes were over on April 25th. I turned in my grades on Saturday, April 30th. I had a nice leisurely day on Sunday, May 1st. And it seemed to me that I should be able to start my summer writing on May 2nd. That didn't happen.

I'm the outside member on the Business Division's job search this spring and we had a candidate in on Monday to interview. Then I had a lingering research proposal to deal with. Tuesday was a writing day and I got a lot of stuff done, including requested revisions to a story, which was accepted that evening.

Wednesday, though, was another job candidate interview, this time for a position in psychology. We also had registration for new freshmen for next year. And another last minute research proposal came in. I was up by 6:00 and by the time I got home and helped Lana get groceries, it was time to go to bed for work the next day.

Today is Thursday, and I was up at 5:30 to make the trek into work. We've got another job candidate interview today. That will be most of the day. In the evening, though, I have a writing group meeting, which should be fun. And Friday I'm off so more writing will be done.

Saturday is actual graduation and that will take most of the day. Sunday begins my summer writing in earnest! And if anyone tries to "drag me back in" after that they'll get what's coming to them.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Grades are in.

I turned in all my grades late yesterday evening. There are still a bunch of meetings scheduled for next week. I’m on two late job search committees. There’s graduation and a few lingering research proposals to evaluate. But after May 10 I should be largely free for a couple of months to do my own thing.

I have a lot of writing plans and even though I’ll be officially out of school, I’ll still have to zealously protect my writing time.  Very few respect it. Everyone seems to think that since you’re off of your day job that you won’t mind giving up a morning for this, or an afternoon for that. I do mind. I have a second job. That’s how I treat it. A summer job that I take just as seriously as my other one, even though it doesn’t pay nearly as well.

Although I write a little bit most days all year around, summers and Christmas break are where 75% of my most productive writing gets done. These are the times when books are finished, collections put together, and materials are finalized into what I hope are publishable forms.

Those days are finally coming for me, and it’s time to seize them.