Category Archives: life

general posts about my life

No Battle Plan …

So I had expected to be deep into writing my next novel by this point but I am still outlining the brute. Now I am very happy with the outlining so far. It’s a really detailed document pretty much taking the scene by scene through the entire narrative, but even doing the outline is not going according to plan.

I had a set idea about the end of act four and hour it leads into act five where everything comes together for the ending and then today a new idea slithered into my head.

It’s very different but follows so naturally from the earlier scenes and characters that there is no way to ignore it. Luckily for me it does not blow up the ending and in fact I think make the whole novel much stronger. However I really want to test drive it, kick the tires, and make sure this thing is in shape before I commit to utilizing it. That means it si time for a get away from everyone I know, lose my self in a crowd, and think for a number of hours.

Normally this would call for a Sunday trip to Universal Studios Hollywood but I have one of those planned for next month and it will be me and two friends being crazy and silly together, not plotting out novels. I don’t want to take off for a Sunday two months in a row, missing my walks and lunches with my sweetie-wife so something else will have to be done.

This time it will be the San Diego Zoo Safari, formerly the Wild Animal Park. It’s MUCH larger that the zoo located in the center of the city but it is only about 30 minutes away. The plan is to take Tuesday off from work and spend most of the day in the North County looking at animals, getting in a lot of walking, and making sure this idea is as solid as it looks.

Wish me luck.

 

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My Car Two Weeks In

So, just about two weeks ago I purchased a used 2011 Kia Soul as a second vehicle so that my sweetie-wife and I would no longer need to share a single car.

Before going out and buying a used care I did tons of research, looking for a make and model that scored well on reliability, economy, and safety. In addition to those criteria I wanted a small car that would feel cramped for my six foot two inch frame. The data lead me to the Kia Soul and after a few test drives I settled on that make and model.

I can say that after two week I have no second thoughts about my purchase. The car drives well and easily, it handles in a manner that I find both easy to control and fun to drive. Yes, it has a simple four cylinder engine with a four speed transmission, Kia upgraded the transmission with the next year’s model, but I am not interested in a sport car or I would have gone for one of those.

The car had 60,000 miles on it, under the industry average of 12-15 thousand miles per year for American cars, and the results of the mechanical inspection well very good, indicating a car that had been well maintained. I suspect the own before me sold the car off once the 60,000 warranty had expired.

In May I look forward to a drive to Los Angeles when two friends and I, the three of us have not hung together in 30 years, will spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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A Strange Sight

So today my sweetie-wife and I were taking out usual Balboa Park walk when we came across oan interesting scene. Picture this;

A man with a brilliant green mustache dressed in a white suit and matching Panama hat clutching an over sized ruby running through the tress as he is chased a man in sun glasses and cat-suited women wearing domino masks and wielding katanas.

It was a film production. Looked like a student project. We stopped, watched for a few moments and exchanged a few words.

Man, I miss my own amateur film production days.

 

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Slow Sunday

Today turned out to be a very pleasant day. I spent it, as I do most Sundays, in the company of my sweetie-wife. We took a trip to the San Diego Zoo, we both hold memberships so visiting to Zoo is free. The weather was fine; the animals were active. When we came up on the enclosure for the Fishing Cat we got a small surprise. This animal is most often asleep, and usually on a back high ledge where if you can spot the point of an ear you’re having a lucky viewing day, but this morning he was down and pacing near the front of the habitat. We all witnesses some small deer like animals, they were Dik Diks but looked related, charging around and racing each other around their paddock.

For lunch we stopped at the Waypoint Public House where I experimented and got rewarded with a warm happy lunch. I have no memory of every trying a grilled cheese sandwich and so today I ordered one. I had them add avocado to at least help with with a few healthy fats. The sandwich was hot, gooey, and delicious.

At home we relaxed with computers games, Dominion online, and a round of Star Trek: The Original Series; The Deck Building Game. (She won the Star Trek game but it was a tight thing.)

All in all a very relaxing time leaving me quite contented.

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Universal Studios Hollywood: February 2017

So Sunday was my first trip of the year to Universal Studios. I take these trips 3 or 4 times a year. I have strong introvert tendencies and I find that being alone in a crowd to be a very relaxing environment. It helps that I am a movie nut and never tire of things that are film related.

I departed San Diego about 7 am and arrived just after the park opened. Sadly the Stunt show was closed for refurbishment, along with the Jaws attraction on the tram tour, but these are the sort of things that happen when you go in the dead of winter.

I always do the tram tour. Depending on what’s filing and where the course can vary quite a bit and the tour is different with each guide. I do have to admit that on this trip I had the worst tour guide yet. It may be that he was a last minute replacement or something like that. I sat in the front tram car and I watched as he read the script right of the page. Now that script is a tough one, the corny jokes are a tough sell on a good day but doing them in a cold read renders them worse than dead.

The weather was cold, grey, and fogged in for most the morning, which made the Wizarding World of Harry Potter feel just like a Scot winter. This was my first visit to the Harry Potter part of the park. It was fun and the ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ was fun and became my second favorite ride. (The Simpsons remain number one just for the sheer number of jokes at the park’s expense, but if I am being honest the flight sim of the Potter ride was better.)

Sadly they took out the little museum that used to live on the lower level. I guess people want more food and rides but I always enjoyed the exhibits.

I left early, about 3 pm, spending a total of about 6 hours in the park The weather threatened to turn rainy and I thought it best to get home to my sweetie-wife as quickly as possible.

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Doing Research

So I am about to dive back into my Nationalized Space fictional setting and write another Seth Jackson novel. These usually involve research into governments types and functions, space movement and combat and things of that nature but I find I needed to take an additional step this time: I had to re-read by my earlier novel.

This has been a different experience. It has been nearly two years since I last read these pages and I have grown as a writer in the intervening span. That said, and while there are sentences here and there I now want to revise, I am overall happy with the book. It’s the sort of novel I want to read and if I may be allowed a moment of egotism, one I am having a lot of fun re-reading.

Other aspects of my are also going fairly well. Three weeks ago my doctor’s office called me to warn me that my cholesterol number were rising and the time had come for action. I could either start taking medications or I could try diet and exercise. To me the medications are a last resort and it is better to address the causes rather than the effects.

Since the doctor’s warning I have not had red meat. I plan to on rare occasions, say every two months or so, allow my self some red meat but fish and fowl have become my mainstay. I have also jettisoned snacks that are not fruits or nuts. On February 4th I have another blood draw and we’ll see if there has been any effect. Then on February 5th I’ll take a sol trip to Universal Studios Hollywood and let my brain recharge for a spell.

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Brain can’t brain

I can’t seem to conceive a new essay today so am off to edit some fiction and I will leave for your enjoyment a music video from one of my favorite singers, Caro Emerald. (If you cant sing acoustic you’re not a real singer.)

 

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Goodbye 2016

Today is New Year’s Day and we can officially place 2016 into the pages of history. For some 2016 was a terrible year and I can share their horror of what unfolded on the public stages, but personally 2016 was for myself a year of gradual change.

I made no new fiction sales during the year. My agent continues to shop my military SF novel so on first inspection it would appear that the year has not been very kind for my writing, but I do not feel that is very representative of my experiences.

Yes, the lack of sales is disheartening, but I have also gotten some very nice comments from top editors. While the particular stories were not to their tastes they praised the prose and asked my agent to send more.

In 2016 I also completed two novels, both were experiments outside of my writing comfort zone. One, an SF noir I think worked very well and now rests in the hands of my capable agent, the other my first attempt at an SF YA adventure failed, but the idea is not dead and who truly succeeds at a first attempt?

I believe that I have in gaming terms ‘leveled up’ this year and start 2017 as a stronger and more skilled writer.

My personal life continues to improve. I love my wife and our marriage is strong, my day-job is interesting, worthwhile, and compensates well. I work with good people who I enjoy interacting with everyday. 2016 also saw my first opportunity to attend San Diego’s local horror film festival Horrible Imagings. I loved it more than I had expected and look forward to the next festival later this year.

2016 was not without its troubles. I watched friends struggle with adversity and right there at its close I became aware of the need for a dramatic lifestyle change of my own. My G.P. has informed me that my cholesterol numbers are beginning to climb and I had a choice, radical alteration to my diet or medication. I detest the idea of taking ever more maintenance prescriptions and so the diet is a changing. Fruits and veggies are the order of the day, whole grains, and never again the beloved fried foods.

So the year had it’s bumps and its benefits, overall I am not unpleased with how the year has turned out.

2017 holds promise. I have entered the Writers of the Future Contest after an absence of several quarters, though the tale submitted it another experimental one and we shall see if it strikes a chord with the judges. My novel continues to be considered for traditional publication, and after a little short story work that won’t take more than 2 or 3 weeks I return to the comfort of military SF for another novel.

May your future hold much promise and joyful challenges.

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Research Can be Surprising

One of the ways to avoid doing the actual work of writing it is do research. Of course your story needs research but it is also an easy out, after all there is always another article to read, another book to check out, another paper to scan. I am no more immune to this than any other writer.

For y next SF military novel I am doing research into PTSD. The question I have is if the bio-chemical and neurotransmitter links of PTSD can be undone and restored by physical treatment what does that do to issues such as survivor’s guilt?

While doing the research I followed some breadcrumbs down a rabbit hole of information and ended up reading about children and PTSD. Not at all germane to my novel as none of the characters are children and certainly not the character for whom I needed these answers, but the research turned surprising in a personal matter.

My father died when I was ten years old and it was quite a blow emotionally. Reading the symptoms and expressions of PTSD in children I was struck just how much of it lined up with my memories if myself during the years following his passing.

Now this was the early 70’s, hardly a time when people would have considered such a diagnosis for a boy, but the tremors of familiarity resonate strongly for me. Today, there are now symptoms of expressions and I am quite satisfied with life.

Writing can be a profession that transforms the writer and not just their readers. I have already had an adjustment t some political thought as a results of fiction heads I have crawled into for their POV and now I have a new take on my own childhood.

 

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A Day Off

Lately I have been working 50-54 hours weeks at my day job as the Medicare application flood in during the Annual Enrollment Period. This week my body informed me that it no longer approved of the extra money I was making and allowed the Psoriatic Arthritis to flare up.

Now, this is not disabling and many people, some close friends, suffer far worse health issues, but the outbreaks, the joint pain, and the lack of sleep do take their toll. This was a result of physical stress and in order to de-stress I took today off.

Surprisingly I slept for 9 hours, which means I really and truly needed it. I operate, happily, on 6 1/2 hours each night and even n the weekends rarely go beyond 7.

This morning has been a lazy morning of burritos, British WWII documentaries, and thinking about my current SF short story.

It had been stuck for an ending but now I have it. I knew the story, and that pointed to the character change, what I did not have was the plot that got me there. Now I think I have that plot. When I awoke this morning I even was struck by an experiment style to pull off the ending. It’s wacky and may not work but I will attempt it. You should write outside your comfort zone.

 

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