Oregon Coast Anthology Workshop

I did not post here much in February.  Nor did I write much of anything in February.  Why?

Well, as you will recall from my January posts, I was writing a story per week for the Anthology Workshop up in Lincoln City, Oregon, put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  I got all six stories written by the end of January.  But then I had to read all the stories.  As in, ALL the stories, written by all forty of the writers coming to the workshop: 240 stories in total, adding up to about 1.2 million words of fiction.

That’s a lot to read in one month.  Especially when you have a Navy job, a wife, four kids, sleep, and a desire to keep in shape at the same time.  As a consequence, I wrote nothing new last month.  And thus I really had nothing to tell you guys here on the blog.  Because the other thing is the rule of the workshop is no one is allowed to talk about the stories, in any way whatsoever, except for the panel of six editors who were buying for the anthologies.

Of course, there were more than six anthologies being made.  Yes, there were the six Fiction River anthologies that we wrote stories for.  But also, the latest Fiction River kickstarter funded an Editor Saves anthology, meaning a seventh Fiction River.  And there was also a secret surprise (not secret anymore because it’s been announced): Dean and Kris are bringing back Pulphouse, the magazine they used to run back in the 90s.  Dean’s the primary editor for it, and he was buying for it during this workshop as well.

So there was a lot going on last week.

Man, I had a ton of fun at the workshop.  And I learned a ton, too.

The first thing I learned was how quickly an editor HAS to get through a manuscript.  I mean, I knew they got tons of submissions, and had to make decisions quickly.  But it didn’t really sink in viscerally until I had to go through more than a million words in a month.  At first I knuckled down and tried really hard to read each and every story all the way through.  But then I realized 2 weeks had gone by and I was halfway through the second anthology’s submissions…and I had 4 anthologies to go.  After that, I found myself giving the stories a page, maybe two.  If they didn’t grab me in that time, I was off to the next one.

Which is what I’d been told editors do routinely.  That always struck me as a bit asshole-ish.  But when sheer practicality smacks you in the face like it did last month, you learn that there’s really no other way to go about it.

The other thing I learned is just how subjective all this Fiction stuff really is.  I mean, I knew it before, but it was enlightening to watch the six editors give their opinions on the various stories: how seldom they all agreed on what they liked and would buy and what they didn’t, and how seldom I agreed with them.

Also illuminating was how many truly wonderful stories were not purchased, just because the editor wasn’t sure how to fit them into the anthology, or because they didn’t meet the editor’s vision for the anthology’s tone.  The writer would most likely not hear that in the rejection letter: it would just be a “Sorry, this didn’t work.”  But it definitely showed how often rejection is not a comment on the quality of the story itself but more the vagaries or taste, or sometimes of something completely beyond the writer’s control (like the editor hates fairy stories but you had no way of knowing that, or the editor had already committed to buying a story with a very similar theme or feel from a NAME author to the one you submitted, and so the editor can’t buy yours too….things like that).  But writers often choose to view everything as a personal reflection of themselves as writers and as people.

Which goes to the narcissism of writers.  But that’s an entirely different topic, altogether.

Anyway, I got some good comments on my stories, and some good constructive feedback on them as well.  And as one day lead to the next I didn’t sell any.  Until Friday, when the story I wrote for Fiction River: Spies! came up.  I thought I had done a good job on this one, but I made the mistake of re-reading it the night before.  And immediately, I thought, “Oh crap, I didn’t put enough setting in.  Well, so much for that.”

Well, it came time for the feedback.  Dean said, “Man, this was smooth.  It just pulled me all the way through and it was completely satisfying.  I’d buy it.”  The other editors gave similar feedback, but three out of four had some criticism to offer.  And then it came to Kris, who’s editing the Anthology.  She said when she saw I was coming that she was hoping I’d write a story like this.  It held her and she liked it, but she put it on the maybe list because she wasn’t sure if she’d remember it.

But then that morning she went back through, and she remembered it completely.  So she bought it for the Anthology.

CHA-CHING!!!

In case you guys are keeping score (and judging by this website’s page hits, you’re not), that is my first professional fiction sale ever.

Needless to say, I felt very good about it.  I was grinning ear-to-ear, and I soaked up the applause that everybody gives to someone who makes a sale at the workshop.  Later, during the next break, I spoke with Dean, and he said, “You know, you just conquered probably the toughest editor on the planet.”  I hadn’t thought about it that way, but she is the only person to have won Hugos for both her writing and her editing, so he has a very valid point there, doesn’t he?

Yeah, that felt really good.

Which is not to say the week was completely fun and nothing else.  I was battling health issues the second half of the month.  In fact, I was diagnosed with pneumonia the weekend before I had to drive up to Lincoln City.  The Doc put me on bed rest for a couple days, and gave me a Z-pack (antibiotics) and some other meds.  But he said I would be ok to go to the workshop, so I went (I probably would have gone anyway, stubborn as I am, and maybe he saw that.  Or maybe not).  Regardless, the Z-pack did its job and I was pretty much all better when I started the drive up.  But man, Oregon is chilly compared with San Diego, and it was wet and damp all week.  I had a bit of a relapse the first few days.  But I got better, and by the time I left I was pretty much good to go.  Then I got back to San Diego and the cough got worse again.

Freaking changes in climate, I tell you.

Now the cough is down to the annoying dry, hacking, unproductive cough that I always get after a cold or other illness.  It generally lasts for a month or two, and there’s never anything the Docs can do about it.  A couple years ago, they diagnosed it as a form of asthma, actually.  Just something I have to deal with.

That’s the other reason I didn’t get any writing done last month: all that reading plus illness was a bad combination.

But getting back to the workshop, I had a ton of fun, even with the cough.  I learned a lot.  And I will have made some money, and a pro sale, out of it as wlel (not enough money to cover the expense of the journey…this time…but it was still worth it).  I’ve already asked Dean to pencil me in for next year’s workshop, and I fully intend to be there.  And since I’m done with the Navy in a few short months, there ought to be no reason I cannot go.

🙂

So that was my February, and the first several days of March.

I’ve got some more cool things to tell you guys.  But that will have to wait for another blog post.  This one is far too long already.

So until next time, have a great fun time, everyone.  Go read a story (make it one of mine though, will ya?  😉  ).  Hit the Patreon link below and send a brother a buck or two a month to keep doing what I’m doing.

And I’ll see you next time.

Bu-Bye!

🙂

 

Meet The Garage Gym

Last post, I bemoaned the physical slide I’ve taken over the last year.

Not shifting blame, it’s all my fault.

But I’m taking steps to change it, and I figured I’d take a minute to share what I’m doing.  Maybe it’ll help some of you guys.  Or maybe you’ll just find it interesting.  Or maybe not.  Regardless, this is my place and I get to share what I want, so here goes.

😉

It’s been two and a half weeks since I got back to running regularly.  Recall that the Doctors told me not to run at all due to my plantar fasciitis.  Instead, I should do these various exercises they gave me, which did jack squat.

You’d think that disregarding medical advise, saying screw it, and hitting the pavement would make things worse, right?

Nope.

As of today, the fasciitis is almost totally gone.  Yeah, I had some pain when I first got up this morning, but it was more ankle joint pain in my right foot than heel pain.  I’m officially calling BS on the Doctors’ prescription for fasciitis and liking my own.  I’m just pissed at myself for taking almost a year to do it.  Grrr…

I’ve not just been running, though.  I’ve also been going on walks with the kids to hunt Pokemon (my kids love Pokemon Go.  Aw hell, I love it too, who am I kidding?), so that’s a great excuse to get them outdoors.

And I’ve been lifting again, and training at a local MMA gym.

Key elements of my regime are my garage gym, my MMA gym, and the Christmas present from my wife: the Garmin Vivoactive HR.  I’ve already talked about the MMA gym, but the other two deserve discussion.

Let’s talk about my gym first.

When we first bought this house, I brought with us the heavy bag (75 lbs) I’ve had since…2004, I think.  I’ve always hung it up, but honestly got varying degrees of use out of it.  Same thing applies here.  I hung it up, but only sporadically used it.  Since I started up at the MMA gym with the boxing coach, though, I’ve changed that.  Now it gets pounded regularly.

There it is.

Then, a couple years ago, when I was getting ready to deploy in support of Naval Special Warfare, I decided I really was tired of sucking at pull-ups.  I found some tips online about how to build your own pull-up bar, so I installed one.

I got some good use out of that bar, and by the time I deployed I wasn’t a complete embarrassment anymore.  At least, not in the pullup area, anyway.  😉

A year ago, after I got back from deployment and when I was lifting all the time, I thought hard about buying a Power Rack, a bench, and a bunch of weights.  That would have cost $1,000-1,500 at the minimum.  Lucky for me, around that same time one of my wife’s friends was getting sick of her husband never using his weight set, so they offered it to us for free.  I accepted.

It’s not exactly the king of equipment, and it lacks some of the safety of a Power Rack, but it works for benches, squats, and most of the other things I could want to do.  And the price was right.  🙂  I’d like to get a better weight tree and some more plates, but for the time being it’s got what I need.

Finally, my as my wife’s gotten more into strength training as opposed to just running, she’s fallen in love with the TRX.  So we installed one of those, too.

I built that wooden box for my wife, so she can more easily reach the pullup bar, and so she can do plyometric jumping things off of it.  I’ve ended up using it as well.

You can also see my bike against that wall there, too.  She’s a Cervelo S2, and she’s super awesome.  I have GOT to get out on her more this year.

So that’s the garage gym.

I’ll do another post later today or tomorrow about the Garmin.  This one is long enough already, I think.

For now, what do y’all think?  Not too shabby, eh?

Excuses and Excuses

Hey, look!  2016’s over!

And wow, from a writing perspective, I accomplished just a little bit more than jack squat.

The year actually started out pretty well.  In January, I cranked out a bunch of short stories for Dean and Kris‘ anthology workshop, just in time for the Navy to change my schedule so that I couldn’t attend it.  Then I hunkered down and maintained a daily log of writing output as I got going on The Falconer’s Stairs, the next Glimmer Vale Chronicles book.  I also got started on a new Space Navy series, but after a few chapters decided to stop until GV 5 was done.  And it was going pretty well, for the most part.  I even commissioned cover art before I finished it, with a deadline of my intended release date, as an added motivator to git ‘r done.

Then I went on travel to Japan for a couple weeks for the Navy.  I intended to write a ton while I was there, but as tends to happen in Japan, instead I enjoyed the country and the company of my Navy compadres.  That can be forgiven, I guess.

What can’t be forgiven is the absolute lack of writing over the summer and first part of the fall.  I can claim busy-ness, and that’s true to an extent.  But really I wasn’t focused.  The Falconer’s Stairs has been sitting at about 80% done for a while.  And the Space Navy book…no progress there either.

Basically, in 2016 I sucked as a writer

On the bright side, I got invited into an anthology that’s being edited by my buddy, and awesome writer in his own right, Blaze Ward.  It’s a super-hero themed collection, something that I hadn’t done before, so I was able to stretch my limbs a bit.  The story was due on 1 December, and I got 15,000 words done in about a week and got it to him on time.  He liked the story a lot.  So do I.  All the same, I’m pretty sure there are some who will be…put off…by its content and main character.  We’ll see.  More to follow as the release approaches.  He’s aiming for late Spring.

I’ve also re-commenced with stories for this year’s Anthology Workshop, which I actually will be able to attend (no Navy conflicts this time!).  Got two done in December, and there will be four more to do in January (one per week).  The December stories were 4,500 and 4,700 words, respectively.  The assignment for this week is 3,000-6,000 words.  Shouldn’t be too hard.

I also submitted to Writers of the Future each quarter.  Got two Honorable Mentions and a Silver Honorable.  Thing is, those were all stories I had written earlier, namely last January for the anthology workshop.

So what does all that mean?  I certainly CAN get the words out.  But I clearly need external deadlines of some sort, or I tend to let myself slack off.  Basically I’m a lazy bastard.

You can see that on the physical side of me as well.

A year and a half ago, I got back from deployment.  Unlike my previous deployments, this one was not on a submarine but a surface ship.  Consequently, I worked out pretty much every day – Insanity, weights, you name it.  When I came back, I looked like this:

Yeah, I didn’t have a six-pack, but I looked pretty good and I got a hell of a tan from 7 months in the tropics.  I also had developed an even greater taste for lifting than I had before.  A good thing, right?  🙂

I came back and continued lifting, and running, and all the great things that keeps one looking good.  I trained for a marathon in Santa Barbara, that I was going to run last year in November.

Then, in September, I broke my toe.

That killed my training for a few weeks.  But no worries, I was going to gut it out and do the marathon – except it got cancelled.  Ok well, I can still lift, right?  Then I injured my shoulder.  Come December, my foot was fully healed, so I started running again.  And then in January, I broke another toe – in the other foot.  And my shoulder still hurt.  Turns out I had an impingement – a minor almost dislocation that I was going to need physical therapy for.  Well no worries, my foot’s almost healed and I can run again.  And then….plantar fasciitis.  Every attempt at running resulted in wicked heel pain the next day, and for several days later

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????

Seriously, I turned 40 and went straight to hell physically.

So I stopped running, and basically doing anything except physical therapy.  The shoulder got better, but the heels didn’t.  Meanwhile, I kept up the same diet I had been, and indulging in more beer and wine than I should have, considering my changed physical activity…

Did I switch to bicycling, which I used to do a lot but had gotten away from?  Of course not.  That would take effort, and all those injuries gave me a great excuse not to just slack off.

Long story short, I gained almost 20 pounds.  In a year.  Disgusting.

So 2016 was basically a year of slacking and excuses, and overall bleah.

It wasn’t a total loss, though.  A couple months back I got sick of slacking, joined an MMA gym, and got working on my boxing skills.  Jujitsu and kickboxing too, but I’ve primarily been focusing on boxing so far.  Those who know me know I’ve spent a lot of time over the years training in karate, kung fu, and tai chi.  But it had been a while since I found a dojo that I really liked, and that wasn’t, for lack of a better word, cheesy.  So many don’t allow contact in sparring, or only play-act the practical stuff.  That is unsatisfying and not especially challenging.  The complete lack of finding a good school left me dejected so I essentially gave up for a couple years.  But I knew I needed to make a change so I said screw it, go with boxing.  That’s when I found this particular gym.  I had heard good things about the MMA world, so why not?

Good move.  The boxing coach in the gym makes his living training championship and professional-level people.  Apparently he just comes to this gym as a fun way of paying it forward.  Suffice it to say I’ve learned a lot from him so far, enough to know how seriously lacking in fighting skills I had been up to this point.

So that’s good.

I’ve also decided to stop being a wimp and get back to lifting.  And back to running.  Screw the aching heels, just do it.  And you know what?  As I’ve been working back into it, the heel pain has gotten less, where all those exercises and whatnot that the Docs and PT people said to do did precisely jack squat.

Combine that with the Christmas present from my wife – a Garmin Vivoactive HR wearable watch/GPS/activity tracker.  This thing is great.  I used to use the MapMyRide app on my iphone to track everything – a great buy at $1.99.  But this thing goes more in depth and is easier because it’s right there on the wrist, and it makes cool graphs.  And the Garmin Connect software interfaces with UnderArmor’s MyFitnessPal to track calories consumed and burned, making diet management a snap.

So I’m psyched to get back on the physical horse in 2017.

I’m also psyched to get back on the writing horse.  This month is the four stories for the anthology workshop, and finishing up The Falconer’s Stairs (finally).  Then it’s over to the Space Navy books.  I think those are going to be awesome, and y’all will like them.

That still leaves the problem of deadlines, though.  I’ve decided to tackle that in two ways.

  1. I’m going to get The Falconer’s Stairs up on Amazon and elsewhere for pre-order, for full release early March.  The way Amazon works, you have to have the final manuscript uploaded 10 days prior to release, and you can’t move the release date, or they punish you hard.  So that’s a deadline to work to.
  2. I’m going to do similar things with the Space Navy books, and others I’m doing in the future.  No more nebulous target dates without consequences if I miss the mark.
  3. I set up a Patreon account.  (I know, I know, asking for money when you just admitted to being a slacker?  Hear me out)  The goal of the Patreon account is to give myself another deadline to meet – namely a short story every month for the patrons.  And to get another stream of income going, of course.  But that’s ancillary to the deadline, really.  So if you have the willingness to slip a brother a buck or two a month, head on over and make a pledge.

Between those three things, I hope to satisfy my need for deadlines.

Here’s what I want to get done in 2017:

  1. Publish The Falconer’s Stairs – March
  2. Complete and publish Warfare Qualified, the first Space Navy book – July
  3. Complete and publish Independent Deployment, the second Space Navy book – October
  4. Complete the third Space Navy book by the end of the year
  5. Submit to Writers of the Future every quarter
  6. Write updates here (much) more often
  7. Provide lots of content for the Patreon patrons

I also need to (finally) finish the sequel to Masters of the Sun.  And a sequel to The Pericles Conspiracy.  Problem with the former is there is no demand for it, even though I know where it needs to go and have written a fair chunk of it.  Problem with the second is there is demand, but I have no idea where it’s going at all.  I never intended there to be a sequel; only reason I’ve started one is the demand for it.  So it’s a longer-term work in progress at this point.

The Space Navy books, on the other hand…  Well, I’ll tell you more in another post.  This one has gone on too long already.  It’s practically a book in and of itself.

So that’s where I stand.  Hope all y’all had a happy and festive Holiday season.  I know I did.  Now it’s back to the grind.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Still Here

Holy smokes.  It’s been over 6 months since I posted something here.  No good reason except I’ve been lazy.  It’s not like I haven’t had things to say about current events and the like.  I’m tempted to say it’s because I’ve been lazy, but that’s not really the case.  I’ve done a lot of good, cool things.  There just hasn’t been a lot of writing-related things to address over the last few months.

Well, that’s not entirely true, either.  For instance, I received Honorable Mentions from the Writers of the Future Contest two quarters in a row to start this year, and I’m currently waiting on results for the quarter ending March 31.  So that’s cool.

I went to the WotF awards gala with a friend of mine from the Navy back in early April.  That’s always cool.

I’ve also been writing, of course.  The 5th book in the Glimmer Vale Chronicles is about 85% complete; I just need to hunker down and finish it.  Problem is, I’ve reached the point where I know the very end but have no idea how to get there from where I am.  So I took a break to get started on the new series I’ve had in mind to do, about a new junior office in a space Navy.  I’ve been plugging away on it slowly, drawing off my know-how from 19 years in the Navy to make it work in an actual Navy-like manner.

But that still leaves The Falconer’s Stairs to finish up.  And I shall finish it before the summer is out, I promise.  Just needed a diversion to properly cage my brain for it is all.

Let’s see….what else?

I built a bar/food prep/grilling table for my back yard, to surround my grill.  As n, I personally built it from scratch and raw materials.  I finished the construction today after a couple weekends’ work, and it feels pretty good.  It also LOOKS pretty good, if I do say so myself.

So that’s what’s been going on around here.

You can expect to hear from me more regularly going forward from here.  But for now, I’m sleepy.  Just figured I’d say high again.

More to follow later.  Have a great week, everyone!   🙂

My Star Wars Theory

Warning: SPOILERS!

I went, with my wife, to see The Force Awakens on 19 December, in Imax 3D.  Because Imax.  I’m generally not a 3D fan, and the first couple minutes (fortunately just previews) reminded me why.  But I will say the 3D thing did add a bit of coolness to the show.  Certainly the Imax HUGE screen did.

So…did I like it?

Duh.

Of course!  It was pretty awesome, and great fun.  Was it repetitive from the first Star Wars (don’t tell me that’s not the first.  There are only 4 Star Wars movies.  We do not acknowledge any others in my household.)?  Completely.  Were there some head-scratchingly contrived and cheesy moments?  Absolutely.  Were there things that made no sense at all (like how the hell did the computer-generated-lady get Luke’s blue lightsaber when it fell down the hole at Bespin after Vader cut his hand off, and was lost in the clouds of that gas giant)?  Yup.  Was Rey a total Mary Sue?  100%, without a doubt, no question, utterly cannot be argued, what are you nuts if you don’t agree, yes.

The movie was still great.  I never thought I’d have a Star Wars movie to like, after the abortions we don’t mention.  I now do.

More than that, it sucked me (and the Admiral at home) in, and we left the theater discussing the many questions left by the movie.  Specifically (duh) who the hell is Rey?

It’s immediately obvious that she’s part of the family.  Not just because Star Wars is, at its core, a family saga.  But also because of all the clues dropped in the movie.  But what part of the family is she?

After the movie, the Admiral and I went to a bar and discussed it, at length.  In the end, we came up with a theory that I think holds the water completely.  I’ve since read many inane and, frankly, idiotic theories on the internet.  And one or two that closely approximate our theory.  In the interest of being able to say “I told you so and I knew it before XXXX posted it on the internet”, I present it here, for your evaluation.

And remember, we came up with this at about 1600 on 19 December, 2015.

Just saying.  😛

So here goes:

Han and Leia had two children: Ben (who later became Kylo Ren) and a daughter (who we know as Rey but who probably was not born with that name).  Ren was the older brother, but both were blessed with talent in the Force (just as Luke and Leia were…and why didn’t she train, like it was implied that she would in Jedi and like she did in the EU books?  But that’s another question).

When Luke started his school, Ren and Rey went, despite their very young ages.  At the school was another student that Ren began to look up to as a surrogate father figure because for some reason he was angry with Han (maybe because Han sent him off to the school at just the age when he needed his father most?  Or maybe something else.  Ren’s a gamma-male emo bitch, so it could just be because Han disapproved of his hair style.  I presume we’ll find out why later in the movies).  That student was the man who we now know as Snoke.

Snoke betrayed Luke and destroyed his school.  Ren helped him, for the reason I stated above.  Or maybe he just stood by, and in the midst of the carnage, followed Snoke.  Either way, Ren followed Snoke instead of Luke.

In the process of overthrowing the school, all the other students were killed, and Luke barely escaped with his life.  Both Ren and Snoke believed Rey perished, and they went off to gather the remnants of the Empire and form the First Order.

When he came to his senses, Luke found Rey and spirited her away.  He would have brought her back to Han and Leia, but by then they had split up in their grief and anger over what happened, and he feared that leaving Rey in the midst of that anger would cause her to grow up already fallen to the Dark Side.  So he left her with Leia’s trusted ally on Jakku (The guy Poe went to see at the beginning of The Force Awakens) with instructions to keep her safe until Han and Leia straightened things out.

But they never did.  And for some reason, Rey and the ally (what’s his name anyway?) got separated (maybe she got pissed at him when she hit puberty or something…or maybe he dropped the ball…who knows).

Still, the ally kept tabs on her in the vain hope that, when the time came, he would be able to help her get back to her parents.  And so she languished there on Jakku until BB happened to come across her in the desert.  And we know what happened from there.

 

And that’s our theory.

 

Think about it, and consider these things:

  1. The immediate connection between Rey and Han.  Han thinks his daughter’s dead, but he sees something of her in Rey and can’t help feeling close to her.
  2. The apparent, and immediate, connection between Rey and Ren.  Same reason.
  3. Why does no one in the general populace know that Luke was actually real?  Apparently he’s only remembered as a legend, which means he vanished quite a while ago.  Which means Ren COULD NOT have been his betrayer, because he’s far too young to have done that and have enough time pass that Luke’s not remembered as a real person.
  4. Rey’s flashbacks.  She saw the end of Luke’s school.  She saw a spaceship flying away from her at Jakku and a voice telling her to stay there.  Now, I’ll admit when I first heard that voice I thought it sounded like Kylo Ren in his mask suit.  Which makes one think maybe he was the person who dropped her off.  But as I said in #3, he’s too young.  And really that could have been anyone’s voice, really.
  5. Han tells Leia that he saw their son, but neither mentions a daughter.  This checks, because they thought their daughter died in Snoke’s rebellion.  They wouldn’t discuss their dead daughter, because that would tear the scab off the not-totally-healed wound that was her death.

 

So…what do you think?

Cell Phone Companies Suck

Looks like AT&T…hell ALL the cell providers…are going to finally push me from iPhone to Android.

Why?

I’ve been happy with my iPhone 5, but lately the power button’s been on the fritz – damn thing won’t turn off when I want it to half the time.  And the headphone jack’s become corroded and the audio connection spotty.  All those cumulative days of running and biking with the thing over the last almost 3 years are starting to show.

But no one will cell me a freaking iPhone! Not without their stupid nothing down, pay for the freaking phone forever plans. Screw that.

Oh sure, they still let you just buy the damn thing and do the 2-yr commitment like they used to. But then they charge $25-30/month more per line!

So you’re paying more for the phone ($30/month for 24 months is…wait for it…the full price you’d pay just to get the phone without signing up with any company.  And, sorry, much as I like the iPhone I’m not willing to pay $650 for one.) AND still paying just as much for your cell service.

OR you’re paying the same for your phone as you used to with a 2-yr commitment, but now your 2-yr commitment plan costs more….so you’re paying more for the phone and paying just as much for your cell service.

Fuck that, and fuck them.

I’m done.

I’m this close to just getting an iPod for music, audiobooks, and podcasts, and a prepaid flip phone. I’ll just buy that Garmin watch I’d been wanting to get anyway, and that’ll let me record my biking and running. I don’t really NEED all the rest of that shite, and most of the time I don’t use it.

Or I’m going to get a $150 Android phone from Boost mobile and try that.

Either way, I’m done with AT&T.  And Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint can kiss my tush, because they’re not getting my business either with policies like this.

I will NOT be fleeced!

May Wrap-up

Hola amigos.

So the month’s just about done, and I figured I’d, as I have been the last few months, post a writing wrap-up.  Just because.

This one’s easy: I ain’t wrote a damn thing this month.

Not a word of new fiction.

And I don’t feel bad about that at all.  After all, I returned from almost 7 months away from home, got used to the family again, started back at my normal job, and generally was busy with real-life stuff.  So no guilt about not writing here: I had other important things to do that took priority.

I did finish some books, though.

Audiobooks:

  1. A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M Miller
  2. The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Written:

  1. The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steve Barnes (I actually finished this last month, but forgot to mention it)
  2. Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust, Earth To Alluvium – Gray Rinehart
  3. The Day The World Turned Upside Down – Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  4. The Parliament Of Beasts And Birds – John C Wright
  5. On The Spiritual Plain – Lou Antonelli

So not as much reading; most of those were novelettes and short stories.  But again, I’m no longer on deployment so I have more things to take up my attention.  I’m in the middle of a bunch of stories, of course.

Audiobooks In Progress:

  1. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris

Written In Progress:

  1. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole (I put this one on hold after WotF came out)
  2. Writers of the Future, Vol 31 – Various
  3. The Hugo Voters Packet – Various
  4. Smith’s Monthly #10 – Dean Wesley Smith
  5. Violence of Action – Marty Skovlund, Jr
  6. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

I’ve got a LOT of stories that I’m stuck in the middle of.  Well, not stuck so much as on hold while I get Hugo reading done.  Better get on that, right?

All told, it’s been a good month.  Now that I’m back in the swing of life, I fully intend to get back into the swing of writing during this coming month.  Gotta get a story off to Writers of the Future by 30 June, after all.  😉

Oh yeah, I’m also just about ready to release Robbed Blind, the fourth book in my Glimmer Vale Chronicles series.  Just waiting on the cover art at this point, so probably it’ll be next month sometime.  Stay tuned for more.

That’s it for now.  Later, all.

End Of Deployment

It’s been a weird sort of day.

Earlier this afternoon, I shook hands with all the people I’ve worked with on the ship over the last six and a half months, grinned as an O-6 told me I did a great job for him, then walked off the brow for the last time.

I’ve departed ships before of course, but this was a bit different.  I’m not permanently assigned to this vessel; I was here on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) orders as an Individual Augmentee (IA) in support of a specific Task Force.  On my other sea duty assignments, I was with the ship for 3+ years, and saw the crews change out almost entirely from when I first reported to when I left.  Not so with this one.  The same guys who were there when I first came aboard were the same guys I said goodbye to, and I was only aboard for 6 and a half months.

But hot damn, that was a fun six and a half months!

I’m flying home tomorrow on the first flight out of Guam.  And I’m happy to be doing so.  But part of me is a little sad, too.  Part of the reason for that is I know the ship’s schedule for the next half-year, and it is KICK-ASS!  Would have been nice to be aboard for the cool things in support of operations she’s going to be doing.  In fact, the Admiral at home and I had a cool plan worked out where I would extend a bit and she would meet me at one of the ports of call that she’d been wanting to go to for years.  But alas, my parent command raised the BS flag to that plan and ordered me back.

Oh well.  I’ll just have to bring the Admiral there (and to Singapore, which I think I mentioned before she really wanted to come out for but was unable to) at a later date.

The other reason I’m a little sad?  I guess because it’s just been seriously fun out here, and I feel like I’ve actually been contributing, something that I’ve not felt in a long time.  See, I’ve been in CONUS at training commands for a long time now, and even when I was deployed on my subs, the deployments were only tangentially related to the big business that had been going on.  So I’ve felt like a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker), which is not what I had intended to be.

Of course, the Admiral, and everyone else, tells me that’s BS.  And intellectually I know they’re right, because as a training guy I’ve indirectly helped the effort in lots of ways, ways that can probably never be measured.

It still sucks to not have contributed directly as much as I would have liked.

Which is part of why I volunteered for this IA deployment: it was a chance to directly do something again.  And it’s been a heck of a fun ride.  🙂

(The other reason I volunteered is that the Admiral complained on several occasions that she didn’t feel like a real Navy wife because she hadn’t experienced a deployment since we were married, and since we had kids.  So when this billet came open, I of course had to say, in my best Barney Stinson voice, “Challenge Accepted!”  And boy did she accept it.  She’s literally kicked ass on the home front while I’ve been out gallivanting around.)

So anyway, it’s time to go home.  It’s been a productive deployment.  Obviously, productive for the Navy and the Nation, but also productive personally and professionally.

Now.  Did I meet my previously-published deployment writing goals?  Yeah….not so much.

Just going by the first two months of the deployment, it looked as though I was going to be a shoo-in.  But then things got pretty darn busy.  So I didn’t meet the word count.  But I did finish one novel, get a good chunk of the way into a second, and finished several shorter works.  I have three novelettes on submission now, with a fourth story just about ready to go.  So while I didn’t exactly meet the word count goal, deployment was still a success.

It was successful physically, too.  Observe:

This was taken a few weeks before I left for deployment.

This was a couple weeks before I left for deployment.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

Yeah, your eyes do not deceive you.  I got a freaking TAN!  Hot damn, I’ve never managed to do that before!

That’s what happens when you exercise on the aft deck of a ship pretty much every day, in the tropics, for six months.  Even if you indulge in way too much beer while ashore in liberty ports.  😉

I’ve also read a lot of books.  Over the last month, here’s what I’ve finished:

Audiobooks

  1. The Sam Gunn Omnibus – Ben Bova
  2. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker

Written Books

  1. Darkship Thieves – Sarah A Hoyt
  2. Running From The Night – R J Terrell
  3. Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman
  4. Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia
  5. Veil Of Lies – Jeri Westerson

I’m currently in the middle of:

Audiobooks

  1. A Canticle For Liebowitz – Walter M Miller

Written Books

  1. Violence Of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War On Terror – Marty Skovlund, Jr and many others
  2. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole
  3. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris (I’ve put this one on hold while I’ve focused on other books…for now)

With that, over the span of this deployment I’ve finished 19 Audiobooks and 25 written.  Not too bad.  Well above my average.  Probably above my total annual output for an average year, I think.  Though I could be wrong.

So it’s been a good deployment.  Now I’m slumming it at the Hilton in Tumon, Guam.

This is the view from the tiki bar at my hotel.  It sucks to be me.

This is the view from the tiki bar at my hotel. It sucks to be me.

As I said, my flight home is first thing tomorrow morning.  Cool thing about that is I’ll get back to San Diego late in the morning of the same day I left Guam.  So I’ll get to surprise the kids by being there to pick them up from school.  🙂  I have the feeling they’ll like that.

No doubt there will be some serious adjustments to make when I’m back home, both for me and for the Admiral and the youngsters (they all will have to get used to being spanked again ;P  Just kidding.  Maybe.).  It’ll be a cool and fun several weeks getting back into the swing of things.  Fortunately, I’ll be taking some leave immediately upon my return, and then again once school gets out.  That should help things immensely.

Well, that’s about it from here.  In fact, as I look at my watch I realize it’s now beer o’clock.

I’d best be getting on that.

Talk to y’all later.

Singapore

Way back in days of yore, in 1999, I went on my first Navy deployment.  On that deployment, we pulled into Singapore twice.  I loved it.  Absolutely LOVED it.  One hell of an awesome place.

So you can imagine my joy when we actually came back here again on this deployment.  Score!

For your viewing pleasure:

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IMG_4219

IMG_4237

IMG_4196

Pretty awesome, right?

Man, it’s been good being back here.  Alas, we’ll be leaving soon.  But it’s been a fun time.  Definitely need to get back again, sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, writing’s going pretty well.  I finished a 4th Glimmer Vale book and am well on the way toward finishing a mystery.  I can hear you guys now.  OOO!  Mystery!  Wow!  *eyeroll*  Try to contain yourselves.  I’m a bit behind on actual word count toward the deployment goal, but that’s ok.  I can still get there.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Just a quick update, to say hi.  Hope all y’all are doing well out there.  🙂  Until next time.