Jan 25

Better Than I Thought

I have never thought of myself as a “published author” before. It turns out that I am.

A friend of my wife’s asked to read all of my published stories yesterday. Today, I am printing them out for her, since so many of the markets have since gone under and the stories are no longer available. Eight published stories. Eight! I actually got paid for five of them. And one more upcoming this spring. Who’d a thunk it?

I am still looking for that elusive first professional publication. All I have gotten so far have been token payments. That’s OK. I’ll take that.

I AM a published author after all! Woohoo for me!

Jan 21

Vision Index Updated Again

I spent this morning indexing three more issues of Vision. The index is now current through Issue 63. Also — a milestone. Over 1000 articles indexed! 1009, to be exact. Whew! That is hard to imagine. Of course, I’ve been working on this off and on for 7 or 8 years. In terms of articles per day, that’s not a lot.

Now it’s time to put that aside and work on writing (I’m off today, YAY). I got a rejection from Untied Shoelaces of the Mind on “A Momentary Lapse of Reality”. The note did, however, include some very useful comments on why this story did not work for them. Thank you, Editors!

Time now to dive in and make a few changes so I can send it out again.

Jan 18

Semi-Annual Rant (CAUTION: Dangerously Politically Incorrect Opinions — Proceed at Your Own Risk)

Jean Schara wrote in a recent post:

I’d really like to see a systematic program in Congress to sift laws and programs for relevancy and effectiveness.  When they are no longer relevant, they need to be sunsetted.  When they are not effective, they need to be scrapped or completely revamped so we get our money’s worth.  This should be a regular committee that captures all the budget items, programs, laws, etc and establishes a review schedule.

I think Jean is maintaining an idealism that I gave up long ago. I would really like to see this, as well, but I don’t believe it’s going to happen within my lifetime, if ever. I would also like to see the Tax Code cleaned up, but that’s not going to happen, either. In both cases, there are too many powerful people with too much invested in maintaining the status quo. Money talks. Loudly, in these cases. That makes me very sad. And very angry.

It would be reasonable to suppose that our Senators and Representatives would be reasonable about this, but they will not be. For evidence, see the U.S. Government Accountability Office‘s annual reports for 2011 and 2012 on duplication and waste in the U.S. government’s programs. These reports are not duplicated, by the way. They each identify unique areas that could be improved upon. So far, they are up to 132 items. This duplication costs us, the taxpayers, literally billions of dollars every year. Read them and weep.

Why so much duplication and waste? Pork-barrel politics. As Jean points out elsewhere in her post, bills are saddled with so much unnecessary that they become almost meaningless. Every Congressman wants something for himself or herself in the name of their constituents and is too spineless to put their programs into a separate bill that can be debated in public. Pork buys votes come election time, so every bill includes new programs, many of which duplicate programs already in existence.

Why can’t this duplication be eliminated? Just listen to a group of unhappy 3-year-olds to find out: “You can’t have it! Leave it alone! Mine! Mine!”. Nobody will give up their pet projects, so the waste goes ever on and on. For a graphic illustration, see the comments on the 2011 GAO report in the PDF version of the 2012 report, starting on page 389. “Mine! Mine!”

Unfortunately, the American political system does not run on common sense. Our politicians don’t have time to worry about cleaning up after themselves. Why should they? They have nothing to gain from that. If anyone was serious about cutting spending, these reports would be excellent starting points. Yet they are being ignored. Have any of you ever heard of this before now? Why have your Congressmen not been up in arms about this? Ask them.

Even more unfortunately, in my opinion, most American voters are not interested in common sense, either. They want whatever they can get from their politicians. If it is “free”, then so much the better. Too many of our citizens don’t draw the line that connects government spending to taxes. Or the one that connects their favorite programs to wasteful spending.

As long as our politicians can get re-elected by promising “pie in the sky by-and-by”, as long as they can get away with pointing fingers and calling names instead of taking care of the country’s business, as long as their constituents don’t care, they will continue to maintain the status quo. We cannot afford that. Most unfortunately of all, it looks like we have no choice.

Next time around, let’s all try to look at things with clear eyes and vote for what is best for the country as a whole and not who will bring in the most pork. We really don’t have too many chances left.

Jan 13

Blogged Down

My WordPress seems to have developed some extreme performance anxiety. This all started when I activated the JetPack plugin. Deactivating it helped a little, but we still seem to be having a bad case of the slows. I am going to try uninstalling this plugin altogether.

I do not want to re-install WordPress unless I have no other option. That way lies madness.

Jan 13

The Bad Scene

I have come screeching to a halt on “What Does It Profit a Man?”. I have come face to face with The Bad Scene. There is one like this in virtually every story that I write. It’s the scene that contains the heart of the story. It cannot be left unwritten or glossed over. If I leave it like that, story will be nothing more than sound and fury, signifying nothing. A waste of time.

This scene bothers me. A lot. I have imagined it since the conception of the story idea. Now it is upon me, and I find myself not ready for it. I am very uncomfortable with writing this scene. It involves things that are not on my list of Good Things.

The up side is that I know it will be a powerful scene once I get up my courage enough to write it. It will make this story say something that I hope is important.

I just have to step away for a few days and let that idea take over. Good will conquer bad in the end, and I will forge ahead.


Jan 09

Quick Update

Spring Semester started on Monday, and things have been in their usual state of higgledy-piggledy. Not much work getting done on the writing front.

I have pulled out a story I started working on back a couple of years ago before my latest crash called “What Does it Profit a Man?” All kinds of things happening in this story. I am currently hung up on one scene that makes me VERY uncomfortable. It involves a somewhat deviant sexual act that leads to a death. It is the crucial scene in the story, so I have to get through it. From past experience, I realize that a scene like this will turn out to be powerful, if I can just gather my courage and be honest with it.

Another work in progress is a story for The First Line. If you are not familiar with this magazine, they supply the first line of a story, which must be used exactly as they supply it. You have to write the rest of the story. A pretty good writing prompt, if you see one that interests you. I have chosen to write to the prompt that is due on November 1, 2013: “I came of age in a time of no heroes”. Right up my alley–potentially dark and angsty.

More later as time permits.

P.S. I turned around and submitted “That Others May Live” to Cemetery Dance after Nightmare rejected it. Shoot for the stars. You never know.

Jan 06

And in Other News…

Nightmare Magazine rejected my short story “That Others May Live”. One-day turnaround on this one. Ouch! That’s second time for me. They also rejected “Worse Than Death” back in December. Two days on that one.

Actually, that is one of the reasons I like this market. They don’t mess around. They advertise a maximum 2-day turnaround on most rejections with up to 2 weeks on their short list.

It’s a tough market that publishes some good work, so I will continue to submit. Back to the drawing board. Marketing research is underway.

Jan 06

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