Spawn of Mars
Characters and a situation are a story only if by the end something changes or something is revealed.
Sundry & Motley
As of November & the Collapse of the Republic
Friday, November 6, 2020 12:37 am
Looks like I missed October's update. Sorry. I know no one reads this blog anyhow. If you do, I apologize for doubting your existence.

I sold another story, this one to Cirsova. Not The Impossible Footprint, which, as you may recall, was pre-emptively rejected because of its length. Instead, having decided not to give up on contributing to Cirsova for 2021, I whipped up a 1,200-word short called Dead Neighbor, which Alex the editor bought. So that's nice! 

Still waiting on word from StoryHack about An Uncommon Day at the Lake. Bryce the editor had some 50 submissions, so I won't be impatient. I know I'll hear about it soon enough. Boy, I hope he accepts it. A rejection would pretty much terminate my StoryHack career. Hamlin Becker is my Action-Adventure mode, and his tales are a continuing series.

Meanwhile, Stupefying Stories is resurfacing. I saw an interview with Bruce the editor, and their blog is active again. I know Bruce has had a difficult year, not least personally, but he seems back on track. My two stories Banana Man and Wayward Scarecrow might get published after all. I haven't heard anything yet, however.

Back when music was released on LPs, often an artist would blend one song into the next, creating continuous music through the briefly widened needle-path between tracks. When CDs of such old LPs came out, I was repeatedly disappointed by the harsh discontinuity between tracks, a moment of blank sound where no blankness used to be. I never understood such sloppiness in the CD transfers.

Recently, for some reason, I was motivated to buy Animals by Pink Floyd, which I never got on CD and haven't heard in decades. Much to my surprise, there are no discontinuities. Nor on Wish You Were Here, which I also just re-acquired. It's a beautiful thing. Did they finally figure out how to digitally execute the artist's original blending? Or did they just stop being sloppy?

By the way, Animals is really, really good. I'm not a huge prog-rock fan, but I like this album even more than I once did. Definitely Pink Floyd's best.

In my continuing struggle with Twitter, I have resolved to disengage. From Twitter, YouTube, and all blogs. The proximate cause is the election. I don't care what happens anymore. I don't want to know. This Republic is truly done. Life is too short to care. I'll leave it to others.

Obviously I have not left the internet; but my own blogging is a solipsistic affair. And while I will keep my Twitter account open as a sort of RSS feed for this blog, as well as to signal-boost publishing announcements from myself, Cirsova, StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories, I will do so delicately, with blinders on. With luck I'll never learn who the President is. Ha.

Speaking of Twitter, here's a couple of tweets of mine that I thought were worth rescuing.

  • "Convergent" evolution: The admission that evolution relies not on random mutation but on a set of paradigmatic responses to potential turns of events. The mutations are, as it were, built in.

  • What prevents the Woke from writing good entertainment is that good entertainment accords with the natural order. We are entertained when we sense right and wrong, male and female, God and joy. Those are things the Woke hate. Thus, the Woke cannot entertain us.

    One of the best days of the year is when, in October, I go to the apple orchard with my brother's family, to gather apples and to overload on donuts and cider. In recent years I have later made an apple pie for myself. I'm not much of a cook, but I am a decent baker. Here's a couple of pictures of my Dutch Apple Pie for 2020.

    It was quite delicious!
  • Devils I Used to Know
    A Rediscovery of an Old Band
    Thursday, October 22, 2020 11:44 am
    As a teenage metalhead, of course I listened to Black Sabbath. Never quite loved them, though. When I was in college, Dio Sabbath (i.e., Black Sabbath fronted by vocalist Ronnie James Dio) came out with the albums "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules," both of which I loved. Then I fell off Sabbath again. And got old.

    Recently I learned (from RazorFist's YouTube series "Metal Mythos") that Dio Sabbath, calling itself "Heaven & Hell" (because Ozzy Osbourne, their original vocalist, had legally blocked the "Black Sabbath" name), released an album in 2009, called "The Devil You Know." Of the Dio albums, it is now my favorite. The Sabbalicious track "Follow the Tears" simply... pounds.

    Yes, I am a traditional Catholic, and yes, I have listened to a fair amount of "Satanic" metal. Make of that what you will. While holding no brief for Satan, I must say that Catholicism has always been a bit metal. Eating the body and blood of your God is not for the weak-kneed.

    P.S. Apparently there was a fourth Sort-of-Dio Sabbath album, released in 1992. Missed that one, too. However, given RazorFist's discussion of it, it does not attract me.
    Wednesday, October 7, 2020 10:55 am
    Indian Summer. The Janus Season. My patio furniture is put away, yet the falling leaves dislodged some sun and warmth and so I unfolded a chair. I sat on my patio in long sleeves and bare feet, reading under the drowsy trees.

    Sundry & Motley
    As of September
    Sunday, September 6, 2020 6:59 pm
    So I finished the fourth Hamlin Becker story, that epilogue of sorts to An Uncommon Day at the Lake. I had hoped to make it a succinct 4K words. As it is, it's 5.3K. That's still shorter than the last two (which are ~10K each) and below the pulp standard of 6K (which I regularly exceed). I think it is also fairly succinct in any event. It is entitled His Own Ends.

    This means I might have two stories in StoryHack in 2021. Assuming there are enough issues planned. And that the editor likes them both. Which he will. Because they're great.

    What annoys me about my writing "process," such as it is, are the numerous, unproductive periods. 

    I finished Uncommon Day at the end of April. I found it impossible to make headway on His Own until July. Then, somehow, I started writing; but even then, I didn't finish until August was gone. Two months down; two months up. Four months to get out 5K words.

    The horrible thing is, the down times seem necessary. They are, at least, inevitable. No, I am not "recuperating" or "recharging." I'm just lounging. And my will is empty. Until it's not. And then... not suddenly, but with a certain useful steadiness, I manage to write a complete tale.

    So now, having finished His Own Ends, do I have months of nothing ahead? Probably.

    Since Cirsova is apparently not an option for 2021, and I've already got two possibilities for StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories seems to be dying (and my two stories, already accepted by them, may revert to me unpublished), I don't precisely have any successful markets to target in the short term. Not having to write for specific markets, I am going to let my next story be rather... whatever I want. Just some idyllic SF. No pulp, no action, no thrills, no nothing but what pleases me. This is a kind of freedom, to be sure. I'm looking forward to it.

    The drag of it is, I still have to do some planning and such. I really would like to free-form it and just write. But I decided decades ago that, whatever stream of thought I might indulge, there still has to be a story of some sort. A plot. Or at least a point. Hence the tedious preliminaries...

    It should be cool, though. It's about a man who decides to produce some good, like maple syrup, except not that. His community resides above the surface of a neutron star. The inhabitants of the star, akin to spirits, maintain the livable fragments above. The story is a kind of journal, about his not-maple-syrup endeavors and his benign clashes with his neighbors and local government. It's idyllic. A summer in the life of his family.

    I don't expect to sell it to anyone. I just want to write it.

    I haven't done a very good job avoiding Twitter. It's not so much that I want something to read (however piecemeal), although there is that; it's more that I am so bored. If nothing else, Twitter provides stimulus. Still, I've been cold turkey for a day. Ha! I may avoid it for a time...

    Sundry & Motley
    As of August
    Friday, August 7, 2020 1:40 pm
    I wrote to Alex, the editor of Cirsova, and confirmed that Cirsova's plans and budget for 2021 leave no room for my story The Impossible Footprint. I wouldn't have asked Alex so pointedly, except he had tweeted that he was only going to invite contributors — no open submissions, that is — and I needed to know my chances. What a shame! I still think it's perfect for Cirsova.

    So now I am going to send it through the rejection mill. Maybe Cirsova will take it for 2022. Or maybe it will be a little masterpiece kept in a drawer. 

    Submissions for StoryHack will likely open, as I expected, in the fall. I've got An Uncommon Day at the Lake, the third Hamlin Becker tale, ready to go. It's funny how much I am presuming my story will be accepted. I don't usually operate with such hope. But having had two Becker tales published in StoryHack, my hope is not unwarranted.

    As I have mentioned, my productivity of late has been contemptible. In the past couple of weeks I have finally started writing again. It's another Becker tale, but pithier. I am targeting no more than 4,000 words, in four tight chapters. One thrilling fight and out. The sisters Day are not even in it, except as troubles in Becker's thoughts. It's a kind of epilogue to Uncommon Day and a transition to another, perhaps too ambitious, Becker novella — or novel, should I dare!

    Anyhow, this new short, as yet untitled, might be finished before StoryHack's fall submissions close. That is, maybe I can get two Becker tales published in 2021.

    It's true what they say. Reading Twitter agitates and depresses the reader. At first I was getting that nice flow of thoughts that even busy blogs can't match. But the times are far too infuriating. I have been mourning the Republic and my people for years, but now I am certain we are truly finished. We are passing through the greatest history. And I don't need Twitter to remind me of the coming end.

    I'm retaining my Twitter account but, like many people, I am stepping away. I'll use it for announcements only (and maybe to carefully track Cirsova and StoryHack).

    One frustrating aspect of my (now ended) recourse to the Twitter Timeline was that I just wanted something to read. Gads, it has been hard to find good fiction. I've been enjoying the pulp magazines well enough, but stories are hit and miss, even in good mags like Cirsova and StoryHack. Besides, I really wanted a book.

    I have a lot of samples on my Kindle. The other night I brutally started reading through them. If I didn't like a thing right away, I erased it (from device and cloud). In some ways that's unfair. I never forget that I was initially bored by Crime and Punishment and had to give it another, later attempt. But then I was young. Wow me now, because I will be dead soon!

    Anyhow, I found something that may be really good. We'll see. If nothing else, a nice read surely helps with my mood. Even my will to write is increased.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2020 10:45 am
    For me it's been a remarkably unproductive couple of months. I finished The Impossible Footprint around the start of May and have written nothing but a few tweets since. The early summer days have been wonderful, though; especially pleasant for gloomy old Michigan.

    Now through the 28th, my collection The Spare Midge is available for free at Amazon. As I said in my tweet about it, and as I have mentioned in this blog, these tales are from my Grim Period, from the late '80s to the turn of the century.

    Fun fact: There is a location in the cyberpunk tale, The Courtship of Jay and Elusivebeth, called Little Bosnia. In the original version of the tale it was called Little Managua. I updated it when Nicaragua had become antique news. I probably should have left it alone, for that authentic flavor. Amusingly, of course, Bosnia itself is now antique news.
    Friday, May 22, 2020 4:26 pm
    So I've joined Twitter. As a matter of principle I normally wouldn't, given its biased suppression of free speech, but monopolies are monopolies and Twitter is where everyone is. Though I may initially treat it as a glorified RSS feed for this blog, I suppose I will eventually start tweeting more independently. Even then, given my history with my internet presence, my tweets will not likely be numerous. We'll see. Follow me at Spawn of Mars.

    P.S. I've actually been inclined to tweet a few snarky jokes and images about the riots etc. Then I embraced my inner coward and decided not to become the target of SJWs and BLMs, nor risk the inevitable misconstructions. Tempers are too high and minds too shallow.
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