Friday, April 20, 2018

I Get Spam . . .

Yes, I get spam. So do we all. Sometimes, it looks like this, and it's obvious what the goal is:

This was so poorly to put together, you have to wonder why they even try any more. Especially on me, where I've already in the past had my Apple account used to steal my credit card information so people could:

  1. Purchase some stupid in-app thing for $30
  2. Buy a bunch of crap at a Canadian home decor store.
Both times, we caught the act in time to have our credit card accounts cancelled and the charges reversed. So to fall for this one, well, I'd have to be really, really stupid.

I'm not that stupid. This week.

Then there's spam like this, where the end goal seems a bit murkier to me:

I don't know what any of these mean. Particularly the last one, where they want me to give them the shaft, apparently.

I suppose it means, since I opened the emails, that they know they have a "live" email account. But I don't know what they get out of it really. It seems to be just as easy to send out emails from a freshly-minted email account to request shafts, hovercraft, and chainsaw distribution.

So I'll watch things, I guess. If I suddenly have a thousand chainsaws at my door, I'll know who to blame.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Glimmer of Hope . . .

Spent some time re-reading the evaluations I wrote about in the last post.

Found this (emphasis mine):

Honestly, I didn’t know where this story takes place or is set. It seemed rather before-earth and in the middle of the creation, but not much made sense. It’s extremely poetic and with poetic language which seems more like a poem than prose. Just my opinion since I’m not a poet or get most poetry.

A glimmer of hope amidst the destruction. Because this is EXACTLY when my story takes place.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Could Be Worse. Could Be Raining.

So I entered a first chapter contest sponsored by a reading and critique group I'm part of -- and did not do so well.

That's okay. I mean, yeah. I know I've got to do some work on Doleful Creatures. Not going to let this get me down.


Five hundred words. I seriously have five hundred words to capture attention, or sayonara? That doesn't seem right.


These are professional critiques. From people buying books. I should probably listen to them.


I'll read them again, of course. And read my book again.

And maybe put it on the back shelf for a while and try something else.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Doleful Creatures Gender Swap?

I’m considering something for Doleful Creatures: A gender swap.

Although the gender swap feels, at the moment, wrong.

I’ll tell you why: My main character, Jarrod, has two principal motivators through most of the novel: Guilt and paranoia. Now, I know it’s not only men who get paranoid or feel guilty, but I know both of these feelings well from the male perspective. Perhaps the male and female perspectives aren’t all that different. But it feels artificial to project these feelings ont a gender I don’t understand as well.

Why am I considering a gender swap, making Jarrod a female (and possibly Aloysius too)?


Feedback from multiple readers who think there aren’t enough female characters in the book.

Granted, the feedback-givers are female. They see only one strong female in the book, and she’s the baddie. And I also know it’s mostly females who read fantasy these days.

Still . . .

I read a lot of fantasy. I have read a lot of fantasy since I was a kid.

And here’s the thing: If the story was good, I didn’t really care – and don’t care now – whether the characters are male or female. It doesn’t make a difference to me.

So it’s either me and my perceptions that are the problem, or the story is the problem.

I don’t know what to think, which is why Doleful Creatures continues to languish.

But I keep thinking back to something that was said to me when I was sixteen. I’ll paraphrase: Put effort into things that seem hard to accomplish, because many blessings may be obtained through that effort. Writing a book feels hard to accomplish. But I can see the blessings. I want them.

So I will continue writing. And editing. And figuring out the gender thing. Because I think it’s a legitimate comment.

I’ll pose the following question on Facebook, and see what the responses are:

A Writer Needs Help: Say through innocent actions on your part, several friends and others even closer to you were killed. What would your reactions be, particularly under the following additional circumstances:

1. Another survivor constantly blames you for what happened
2. That survivor constantly poisons those around you with that blame
3. That survivor has murderous intent towards you.

What feelings would manifest themselves, and how would they manifest?

Would different feelings manifest, and in different ways, if you were male or female? What would those differences be?

We’ll see what happens. I’ll post this generally, and in a few writing groups.

"This ifs Fine."

I have not made it a secret that I screw up.

I screw up all the time. And 99 percent of the times I screw up, I confess, I fix the problem as quickly as possible, move on, and work to make sure that particular screw-up doesn’t happen again.
Then there’s that other one percent.

(They, too, get fixed, rest assured. But sometimes that one percent just kind of . . . lingers.)

What I remember most is the feeling: It’s like I’m on fire inside. I’m sure it’s a combination of things like adrenaline and other stress chemicals zooming around the body and the brain just thinking and ticking away at the mistake. I’m sure many have felt that feeling. Many, too, feel the little respites that come with sleep, exercise, and other tasks or methods that help a fella temporarily forget that the Big Mistake still lies there, unresolved.

But the feeling always comes back; that fire within. And the respites seem futile, few and far between. Because all you know is the burning.

That’s what I imagine Richard Nixon and his compatriots going through, day after painful day, as I read John Dean’s “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.” I can practically feel that burning – and this was a burning that amped up and then remained for two years – coming out of every page, out of every conversation. It’s no wonder, during the fight and after the resignation, that his health was shot and he almost died.

If this sounds like sympathy for the man, so be it. He dug his own grave and buried himself to be sure, but it’s inhuman to look and not feel a bit sorry.

Because, to varying degrees, we’ve all been there. Maybe not at the impeachable offense level, but at some level, where we try to bury the burning or escape it, only to feel it coming back.

I wonder to what degree they suffered, though – they had their partners in misery, where they could commiserate and try mightily to explain away the mistakes they made, compounded by the mistakes they made afterward to try to cover up the first mistakes. Still. They had to have their quiet moments, when the only voice in their head was their own, screaming to be heard above the bubbling burning within.

There are days I feel I could write a dissertation on mistakes.

And on that sweet relief that comes when we emerge from the cauldron of burning and know, after all, things are going to be okay.

I have lived my life like this. A strong conscience, one might say. A commitment to self and God that I will be a better person by the end of the day. That I will recognize and fix the mistakes I make as soon as I’m able. Though I am human and let that one percent slip through and give the slow, painful burn for a time to remind me, maybe, what I “miss” the other times I work to make things right.

If anyone tells you they are not familiar with this phenomenon, that they have not felt the burn, that they have not let slip through that one percent, even for a little while, they are lying. We’ve all been in that self-created hell. We’ve all heard the alarms going off. We’ve all been in that spot of doing nothing, or doing only those things that will do all but fix the problem, all but put out the fire.

There are temporary solutions, and the Nixon team seemed to try them all. There was action – lots of it meant to create the illusion for both the public and the self that the problem was being worked and was eventually going to go away.

There was blame and paranoia – the thought that the problem wasn’t really all that much of a problem but was a problem because “the enemies” wanted it to be a problem.

And, on occasion, there was alcohol.

Only one thing fixes the burning permanently: Confession. And the inevitable repercussions, which we are all familiar with based on the burning sins we have committed.

Monday, April 9, 2018

"Exaggerating? Honey, We're Living in A Swiss Cheese with A Door."

For the first time in our married life: A homeowner’s insurance claim.

Not really all that excited about it, as we don’t know what it’ll do to our premiums. But nevertheless . . .

Saturday, we had a rather nasty hailstorm, which pelted the neighborhood with stones larger than a quarter. You can drive through the neighborhood and see most every house with shattered and broken siding, and quite a few fences that look like they were the victim of a target-shoot.

The siding on the back of the house took more than a dozen hits. We were lucky we didn’t lose any windows, and frankly I’m shocked that we didn’t as those stones were hitting hard and fast. I was expecting this to happen to me at any time:

We’ve talked to the insurance company and will have an adjustor call or most likely come out hopefully this week, though they said they’d received a lot of calls and were pretty busy at the moment. That doesn’t bode well for getting the work done, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll let me do the work.

I won’t hold my breath on that last one, that’s for sure.

I still need to check the roof – the house is so tall the roof is really hard to see from the back yard. I may have to vault the fence and get a pair of binoculars out.

Ironically, we had Blue Raven solar look at the roof as part of their pre-install inspection, and they saw no problems. Might have to double check what’s going on up there before they put the solar panels in.

It could have been a lot worse. The storm actually started out as a tornado warning, as folks had spotted funnel clouds west of town as the storm rolled in. By the time it got to us, it was just a severe thunderstorm. It was plenty scary without the twisters.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

“Oh! Luncheon!”

Some weeks you’re the fat guy with the meat mincer, some weeks you’re the duck.

This week, I was the duck.

Lots of documents to do at work. Lots of revisions, and then Wednesday, lots of hurried revisions that spilled over into Thursday until about 11 am. I have more to do, but I’m sitting here feeling numb from all the work.

At last count, sixteen documents finished as much as they could be finished today. More to come next week, including those that got backlogged while I was working on the more exciting ones.

Two documents in particular got my attention yesterday, but in the typical roundabout way.

I should have suspected something was up when an operator came to find me Wednesday morning wondering about the status of a document. Found out a few hours later the entire plant was idled as they waited for this document to be revised. Found out a few hours after that, that there were two documents involved. But bonus of bonuses, in the wake of finishing one, the other just kinda finished itself.

Then I went this morning to send the documents to their owner for final approval, only to find twenty five (!) unresolved comments on one of them. I was able to put those off until next week and get the documents out.

And this is STILL better than journalism.