Category Archives: life

general posts about my life

This is Different

I was going to do a political posting but last night changed my mind.

What happened last night? I finally put together all the materials needed and submitted to the Viable Paradise Writers Workshop.

I have written about the workshop before but for those who do not know what it is here’s a quick run down. Viable Paradise is a week-long workshop taught my industry professionals. That have 24 slots so getting into the workshop is a competitive processed where prospective students are judged on submitted writing samples. If selected you go to Martha’s Vineyard, the same island where JAWS was filmed, and spend a week in the hotel with the others students and the instructors. In addition to making through the selection process there is also a matter of tuition and hotel expenses. After watching the process for years I am finally in a position to hopefully go.

The writing sample, the application letter, and the entry fee were all paid last night and as soon as I hit that submit button, man I love electronic submissions, my heart raced. Unlike submitting stories to a magazine, a novel to a publisher, or samples to an agency, this has gotten me unsettled and nervous.

Scoring a posting into the workshop will be a good thing for me and my writing, I believe that, but it is also frightening. There are a number of factors feeding into my fears.

Social Anxiety – Put me on a panel or even by myself in front of a room of people to do a presentation and I am just fine. The sort of public speaking and presenting that many find terrifying does not bother me. However, one on one and in small social situations I lock up and I suffer anxiety. I have been described as a shy extrovert and there’s quite a bit of truth to that. At the workshop it’ll be a small group of people and while i know I can adjust there’s the fear I will not.

Performance Anxiety – Oh, The idea that I am not as good, or talented as the other students is not an anxiety that is just mine. I know that most people in the situation would be feeling the same thing, but it still grip my heart and powers my doubts.

Separation Anxiety – I have a deep support network of friends and of course my sweetie-wife. We do not take separate vacations and our day-job do not require us to go on trips away from each other. If selected for the workshop it will mean a week away from my friends and from my sweetie-wife. This too fuels my anxiety.

And despite all this anxiety I am excited and hopeful. It will be a nerve racking two weeks as I wait to find out if I am selected and then the nerves will continue if I am.


Working Weekend

My routine in approach to my fiction writing is to work Monday through Friday, treating the output like a normal job. I then take the weekend off, while my brain can’t be shut down and will continue to turn over characters, scenes, and plots, I do not edit or compose on Saturday and Sunday allowing myself a rest.

It is during the weekend that I’ll spend time playing games with my friends and my sweetie-wife, or on the computer, go out to the movies, and just make some popcorn and watch a film late at night. These work free times are critical to my productivity.

This weekend was the exception to the rule. While I certain spent time with friends and my wife, I also spent a number of hours working on the current novel in progress. The deadline for applying to the Viable Paradise Writers Workshop is the 15ths and part of the application process is a writing sample. I decided on submitted chapters from one of my novels, but now the question becomes which one.

There are two contenders since the sample can’t be from a piece that is currently under consideration for publication. One novel is finished; it’s just down to catching the typos and the like. That one has gotten a strong positive reaction for its first chapter from my agent. The problem is that should I be accepted to the program by the time I fly out to join the workshop and get feedback on the piece submitted, it will already be long finished and in my agent’s hands, making feedback a little pointless. (Though always useful for future projects.)

The work is progress is new. (Albeit a sequel to the novel my agent is currently shopping.) I spent the weekend giving it a close edit, taking it from a rough draft to polished. If I submit that by the time October rolls around I should be close to and eve just finishing the project, a perfect time to get feedback. But is this piece strong enough to win me admission? It is untested. I haven’t even read a single scene to my local writing group.

I am handing the edited chapters of the work in progress to my wife so she can review for typos and grammar, plus having worked on both she can give me her opinion on which is stronger.

However, the decision is mine and I need to make it tonight so I can submit tomorrow.



No Blogging Today

I am suffering a fairly painful bout of arthritis and so no essays today.

I am also not going to my day job or writing.

Today is watching TV, taking painkillers, and icing the finger joints.




Memorial Day

Today we remember our fallen soldiers but one aspect I want to mention is that not all fall in combat.

It seems decidedly strange thing think that we now have an entire generation that is rapidly approaching adulthood that have never known a time of peace. 2001 to present has ben continual war for the United States, some times hotter than others but always there. Before the present and enduring crisis there was the peace for the Cold War.

I served, briefly for I was a terribly sailor, and I saw no combat, took part in no exchange of gunfire and never sailed under the direct threat of attack, but still I knew servicemen who died while on duty.

I sailed on one WestPac, a cruise of the Western Pacific, and two men were killed while another was maimed for life during that voyage. One was a marine who fell from a helicopter during on exercise and the other was a crew chief lost when a helicopter crashed and went over the side, vanishing beneath the Pacific’s uncaring surface.

The military in all its branches is a dangerous profession, filled with men and women who for a variety of reason have chosen to place their lives on the line for our greater good.

War, peace, training, or combat all who serve do so at great personal risk and not all survive. It is our duty, our responsibility to make sure those lives were never lost in vain.


Logan Noir

Last night I took a little time of from writing to head up to the local Arclight theater and watch Logan Noir. This is last year’s film and swan song for Hugh Jackman as the character Logan/Wolverine but presented in black-and white.

The film remains a power story about family, friendship, and frailty. The B&W presentation was simply gorgeous. I am happy to see this trend of films being re-released in B&W. For the longest time the mass opinion was that a monochrome movie was inferior to a color one, but that is not the case. B&W presents images in a stark format and for some stories that conveys an entirely different set of emotional undertones.

I ran into an old friend at the theater. Someone I had not seen in decades and that was very nice. We chatted briefly before and after the film.

I have to say I am somewhat saddened by the loss of the 800-1200 words I would have written last not but I do not regret going.


Final Birthday Celebration

Yesterday to close out my birthday celebrations I and two pal went to Universal Studios Hollywood. We had not hung out together as a trio in over 30 years and this was a day I had log looked forward too.

Nothing was forgotten before the trip. I brought everyone’s tickets, and sunscreen was applied when we got to the park. The day was bright, sunny, and hot, but we had a great time.

I did not take photos because I was too busy simply enjoying the company of good friends. We saw the shows, rode rides, shared meals, and ofter 8 hours all returned home tired and happy.

Now to start serious dieting again…


A good game

Well today I ran my D&D game, 5 edition. Now this was also my fist game since I got my iPad. During the week I had loaded onto it two apps, Game Master 5 and Fight Club 5, one a GM aide the other a character sheet management tool.

OH, I am sold. best couple of buck I have spent on gaming. Running the fights tonight was a breeze allowing me to concentrate on the story and the characters rather than spend too much time looking up data.

Tomorrow I am off for Universal Studios Hollywood. Expect to see updates on my Facebook feed, but unlikely here.


Another Birthday is History

Yesterday was my birthday and I must admit that I had a pretty good day. Of course I have already mentioned the pizza and movies Saturday the day before while on Sunday it was my sweetie-wife and I alone.

We started with usual Sunday trip to the Zoo and my knees didn’t hurt at all, so that is always good. After the Zoo we lunched at a steak house and I indulged in my love of beef. Then it was time for a movie and we watched the revival exhibition of The Fifth Element. Games, at the table and on line, rounded out our day along with Doctor Who.

As a bonus surprised I received two personalized rejections Sunday, I don’t think that has ever happened on my birthday before. For those not in the know the vast majority of rejections you would get from a magazine, particularly any major mag, is going to be a form slip or email. With hundred of submission flowing into their office every month there simply isn’t time for anything else. When a story gathers a note as to why it was rejected that is special. that means despite those hundred of other stories waiting on the editor’s attention they felt strongly enough about yours, that yours was so close to making the cut, that the editor felt compelled to comment.

Yup, I had a pretty good weekend and next weekend will be my final birthday celebration with a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.


Saturday Celebrations

So today is my official Birthday and while my sweetie-wife and I will be celebrating quietly together, yesterday was a larger and noisier day.

My desire for a birthday part was fairly simple I wanted friends, I wanted pizza, and I wanted movies. I got all three

The Pizzas came from Costco, they make a decent pizza at a really good price. My friends showed up at noon and we engaged in a triple feature of genre films.

First up was 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, the first and in my opinion still the best, adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. A pre-code movie the filmmakers to the plot into area not only not mentioned in the text but actively despised by the author, bestiality. Despite this there is no doubt the thought put into this movie is top notch and Charles Laughton’s performance is the heart of the production.

Forbidden Planet played next. There is little I can so about the much discussed movie. Inspired by The Tempest it is a serious, big budget, and glossy mid-50’s science-fiction film that actually tries to get its science correct. Heavy on the exposition and hopelessly trapped by the social conventions of it’s period this is still a worthy film.

We finished up with fun and cheestastic Flash Gordon (1980.) Staring Sam J. Jones and providing evidence that there is simply is no line that cannot be delivered with utter conviction by Max Von Sydow, Flash Gordon is thrilling, fun, and an utterly insane romp.

After the films we played card and board games and instead of cake I had some fantastic apple pie.

All in all yesterday was a great day and I look forward to many more years of such celebrations.



Not The Most Productive Day

Today was spent in civic duty. Rising earlier than normal I drove to the local trolley station and journeyed downtown for Jury Duty.

It seems like every two years I get that summons but I have never had the privilege of sitting on an empaneled jury. Don’t get me wrong, I have no mad desire to wield power over my fellow citizens, and I quake at the thought of the responsibility, but I do feel that it is my duty as a citizen to participate in the justice system. I also have a selfish desire to experience it firsthand and expand my horizons as a writer.

Today I got called for a jury pool in the second set of potentials. (That’s makes us sound like Slayers-in-Waiting.) We got to the court and after getting random numbers, mine was 43 out of about 50, we started the selection questioning.

With such a high number I knew there was very little chance that I would end up empaneled. We worked until lunch and then through the afternoon, not getting the final selection in place until 4:30. (They reached the high 30’s, so this year I turned out to be safely beyond fates fortune this time. Perhaps next time.)

One bright spot to the wasted day was the judge, David Ruben. He had a relaxed style and a smooth dry wit. In voice and in mannerisms he was thoroughly a character to be portrayed by Stanley Tucci.