Saturday, December 26, 2009
There has been great controversy in the fields of microbiology and astrobiology about certain agents that have been discovered (nanobes) and whether they are living or not. I'd like to explore that concept, then exploit it--that's what writers do. Here is a link to some of my research so far: Nanobes: A New Form of Life?
I'm very excited and have thousands of juicy thoughts erupting violently in my brain. They are all very delicious indeed, but only some of them are digestible. I must wait until I start writing (and then editing) to ferret out the tenderest and most tasty bits.
I am considering doing one of the most difficult of writing styles for this novel: the multiple P.O.V. Meaning that the novel will switch back and forth between the points of view of different characters. This style does not work in short stories, but when applied to a novel, and crafted with thoroughness (without slipping in characterization) it can be a very effective means of telling a story. I can't wait to idealize which characters I'm going to have witness the unfolding drama.
I know one of my characters already. He will be the main protagonist, the one we will sympathize with the most. His name is Nether Stowey.
If you think you've heard the name before, it's because you might have. Nether Stowey is the name of a town in Southwest England. It was home for a brief time to the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Mass at 8 a.m. this morning was beautiful. They moved the crèche from the back of the church in the old baptismal area to the sanctuary. What a wonderful change that was.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I grew up on a tenanted farm and my family was very poor. We were in good company. Nearly all of the other rural renters in the area were at or below the poverty line. Such was the norm in a state that has always suffered from economic instability.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized just how rich we really were in our lack of material wealth.
I saw glimpses of it at Christmas. In both receiving and giving.
I can remember with wide-eyed wonder waking up on Christmas morning, and while not getting exactly what I asked Santa for, it was a source of ceaseless wonder to me just how intimately that jolly fat old man knew me. I would get books for Christmas. Mostly, they were used books, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered were the authors and the subjects. Stephen King. Edgar Allen Poe. Tolkien. Science fiction, fantasy and horror. To me, these were the best presents ever. They were gifts that kept on giving to an overactive childhood imagination that I hope I never outgrow.
The best part of all was the giving. Every year I would get an allowance to spend on buying some little trinkets for the children in my family. One year, I accidentally bought too many gifts and had some leftover presents that would be for a boy, but I had no one to give them to. One week before Christmas, someone from town told my uncle about a family whose father lost his job. They had no Christmas tree, no food and no toys for their two young sons. Everyone in our family came together to bring Christmas to this family, who were worse off than we were. And the two boys had presents from Santa to open on Christmas morning.
We did that a lot. I'm not bragging about it. It's just something that we did.
My uncle had a Santa costume given to him and he enjoyed playing Santa for the children around our country neighborhood. Nowadays, he has gone from playing Santa for the kids to dressing up as Elvis and playing music for the elderly in nursing homes. My uncle likes to make people happy. I am grateful to have been brought up in such compassionate surroundings. It has increased my appreciation for what I have and has instilled in me a desire to share with those who are less fortunate than myself. It is put into practice most efficiently when I am able to give of myself all throughout the year.
This is what Christmas is really all about: A King was born into poverty so that he could eventually ransom himself for all of us poor, miserable souls. God gives us this most precious of all Gifts.
So let us celebrate the joy of giving through all of 2010.
My prayer for you this Christmas and New Year is not original. And it is not new. In fact, it's very, very old:
The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! ~ Numbers 6:24-26
This prayer is most specifically dedicated to my friend (and CRHP sister) Debbie, who has taught me much about the Jewish heritage and tradition that Our Savior lived.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Although the Great American Novel Writing Adventure isn't until November, I have decided that I need lots of practice in getting used to sitting my butt in front of the computer writing more than 500 words at time, which is what I had my StoryMill progress meter set on. StoryMill is kick ass writing software, peeps!
For short stories, 500 words in one sitting is fine, and I would often go over the goal line. But, for NaNoWriMo, it simply will not do. In order to have the minimum of 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo, I need to write at least 1667 words per day. So, last night I reset my progress meter to 1667 and went to work on my novel "The Coffee Wars." I started about 9:30 p.m. and worked until 11:00 and at the end I had written 1673 words. I was very happy. It was a little strange, because I did not go back and edit too much as I went along (which absolutely drove me bonkers) but that's the way I've got to get used to writing, if I'm going to have any luck with completing a novel. Just have to let the words flow, and take care of the clean-up later.
As a result of this, I finished Chapter 2 and got a pretty good start on Chapter 3. I'm going to do it again tonight. I will work on this novel a couple of nights a week and increase the number of nights I can do it, hopefully without letting my ongoing work on "Tiny Dragon" suffer, as I'm anxious to wrap that story up.
I'm considering this my boot camp for NaNoWriMo.
Wish me luck on my efforts to try an establish a pace in these months leading up to my first attempt at a 30-day novel. I will need your prayers, well-wishing and support.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I did learn a valuable lesson in those first torturous weeks of Earth Science. It would have a far greater impact on my writing than it would on anything else. It caused me to begin an exercise in thought that I now utilize on a regular basis, both when looking for story ideas or just for sheer enjoyment.
Microcosmic worlds. Neat little panoramas that reveal themselves in my brain that I like to try and sort out. My Earth Science teacher was the first to introduce this concept. A few years later, I read a classic short story by Theodore Sturgeon called "Microcosmic God" that established it beautifully for me and planted the way of thought firmly in my mind, so that I'm always looking for microcosms to speculate on.
What if there are microscopic life forms existing in their own engaging little world on the head of a match? And they experience Apocalypse whenever we strike it?
Most of these ideas are in the realm of fantasy and this is where I primarily live. There may be elements of science in my writing. And there most certainly may be horror. I like to mix it up a bit. I like that term "speculative fiction." It covers so much wonderful landscape.
I've often heard that some people are vehemently opposed to what is labeled "soft science fiction." My guess is that would be a story that doesn't sport some astrophysics or chemistry lesson every other page. "Here, Mr. Spock, is why we can not travel past the speed of light: blah...blah...blah." I'm not saying there's no room for hard science fiction in my life. A great deal of what I read is hard science fiction. But I do not write hard sci-fi. I write fantasy sautéed with science fiction, with a side dish of horror. I write "Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors of Weird." For me, it's about plot and characterization. I like my speculative fiction like my ice cream: sometimes hard, sometimes soft-serve.
I don't have a degree in physics, astronomy, chemistry or even writing. I've learned a few things over the years about the sciences that interest me: sociology, psychology and meteorology (meteorology actually applies some physics principles such as thermodynamics, the Bernoulli and Coriolis effects). I've found that structuring a good story out of these elements brings me the greatest satisfaction. And most folks seem to like it. I also believe that there is no more alien or horrifying a landscape than that of the human mind. That is something I love to explore.
Whatever hard science I use is employed like a sugary waffle cone, wrapping all that delectably sweet, gooey fantasy/horror weirdness down inside. I do lots of research and hope that I'm writing my science as factual as possible; breaking as few rules as possible, and if rules are slightly bent then I do my best to provide plausible scientific excuses for it without making it become a college physics lecture.
It's hard to do, but well worth it if the result is a satisfied reader.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I want to rise about seven-ish, take my shower and eat some semi-homemade cheesy corned-beef hash for breakfast. Then hop in the car and head on over to check out the Sonoma Coffee Cafe for some strong "writer's fuel" and get some story planning in on one of my NaNoWriMo novel concepts (which I do not have a title for as yet).
Afterwards, I need to go pick up a book from the library that I have reserved that is geared toward helping me in formatting manuscripts for submission to publishers. I have a flash fiction story (a smidgen over 1000 words) that I feel is ready to get out there in somebody's slush pile. (I may submit it to Critters or SFF workshop for critiquing before I start mailing it out to Asimov's or The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.)
The story is called "World Wide Web" and the narrator is an alien shape-shifting arachnoid.
As for NaNoWriMo, I signed up a few days ago to take part in this November's exercise in mass insanity. My NaNoWriMo author name is 'Waning Gibbous' (another reference to my love of H.P. Lovecraft).
The idea behind NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is that you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, starting on November 1st and ending at midnight on November 30th.
Winning NaNoWrimo is having the minimum number of 50,000 words uploaded by the November 30th deadline. The concentration is on quantity, not quality, so they advise you just to write, write, write and not give a whit how crappy it is, because, it will be crappy. At least for those of us writing our first novels. Nearly all first novels suck. The point of it is the experience. They tell you absolutely no editing during writing, which will be extremely hard for me. I'm used to revising most of my stuff as I go, especially my short stories. They've advised me that my inner editor is a jerk and I should pay her no mind. If you've got any kind of story at all, say the wonderful people at the Office of Letters and Light, you can begin editing it in December. November is for writing only, with wild abandon. Okay. I've got ten months to get used to that idea and to learn how to tell my inner editor to "piss off!"
So what do I win when I complete my NaNo novel, you ask? Well, I win the right to say to people, "Hey, did I tell you about the book I've written?" That's all. Oh, I get special codes to have Amazon's self-publishing affiliate (called CreateSpace) send me a special printed copy of my manuscript for free. And I can buy a winner's tee-shirt.
So, I'm going to write a novel.
I don't know yet. I have two ideas running through my head at present. I mentioned one of them above. I don't have a title for it yet, but I have a vision of Earth being visited by nano-aliens, creatures so infinitesimal that we can't stop them. They can invade our bodies where they attempt to direct our lives. At first, we don't know if they are demons, viruses or memes (which are still viruses, but more on a cultural level). There is an upside and a downside to their existence. Some of them are good and only want to share their special gifts with us in a symbiotic relationship. Through their incredible powers of healing and superior intelligence, those who accept the alien intrusion transcend and become 'superhuman'. Some of the nano-aliens, however, are evil (these are referred to by the good aliens as 'variants'). They want to destroy.
That's the idea I'm going to try and work on tomorrow morning at Sonoma's.
The other idea is one I already have a head start on. I've mentioned in earlier posts that I want to write a novel called "Mages of Morrow" based on my short story (still in progress) called "Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dragon." It will be set in the same realm, although in a slightly later time period. I could use all of the notes and research that I have accumulated in writing the short story. However, I don't know if I want "MoM" to be my first novel. I feel that my dragon (and prehistoric beast) creations have become so close to me that I need to give that book more than just ten months of planning in order to do it justice.
So, I have a weighty decision to make before November.
Aliens or dragons.
I welcome any thoughts on the subject from anyone reading this post.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Ah, coffee shops! The favorite haunts of writers the world over.
And why not? They do have incredible intellectual ambiance: writers (and readers) sitting at counters and tables everywhere, typing on their laptops or writing in their notebooks. And they do serve up the elixir of life. Ah...yes, coffee. Hot, wonderful, energizing coffee!
It's a question of long-standing debate: if you slice open a writer's vein, would he or she bleed ink or cappuccino? I'm not sure about the answer. In my own case, maybe a little of both.
I do know that there is a brand-spanking new little coffee shop that moved in just down the street from me and I can't wait to check it out.
It's called Sonoma Coffee Cafe and they are located right here in good old Pinellas Park, a suburb of St. Petersburg that used to be notorious more for saloons than for coffee. We still have plenty of those, too.
This Saturday morning, God willing, and the muse inspires me to go somewhere to write (other than the library), I am going to go patronize said establishment and see if both inspiration and the fine art of people watching conjures up any literary nuggets or causes any plot bunnies to put in an appearance. I'll take my pretty new notebook (for my NaNoWriMo ideas), order a cup of house drip and let the voices in my head do the rest.
I'll do a review of the place in an upcoming post.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
It would have you think there is going to be no sunshine here in Florida for the next four days. Every day shows overcast. That's unheard of.
I like clouds, so I'm not complaining.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
In an effort to improve my writing prowess, I recently began to think of creative springboards: exercises to fuel my creativity which I could write about and post on this blog, which is, in itself an attempt to become better at my beloved craft.
One of the subjects that came to mind was a "Why I Write What I Write" exercise, but to author it in the style of a writer whose work I admire. This is not an exercise that I intend to employ as a means of imitating or copying the style of another writer, but one that will hopefully teach me to look for, find and use my own voice, even when I am engaged in writing a Cthulhu Mythos piece in the Lovecraftian vein (which I have planned to do in the near future).
Someone once gave me a book of Lovecraft stories. I no longer remember who presented me with that awesome gift of reading pleasure or what the title of the book was. That information no longer matters. Keys are small things by themselves. But when you turn them, you can open doors into fascinating hidden rooms or ignite engines of great power and complexity.
All I know is, the opening paragraph of one of the first stories I encountered grabbed me and held me spellbound and it does so still to this day. It sealed my fate in an overpowering desire to write. It is from a story called "Dagon":
I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Do not think from my slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death...
H.P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. His first published story was called "The Alchemist" and it was published in 1916 in a magazine called "The United Amateur."
Without further explanations, here is my Lovecraft inspired look into my inner madwoman, an apologia of why I write, and why I write what I write:
The Shadow of Creativity: Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, Mostly
My friends are convinced that I am insane. They are probably right.
Mental balance and I achieved a stubborn stalemate many years ago after decades of ceaseless turmoil and foul warfare. Any measure of normal psychological stability now keeps a well-defined and uneasy, if not peaceful distance from me.
I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I know of no better habitation than the dark recesses of my own fetid imagination. My vistas are oblique, non-Euclidean and terrifying realms of stark raving chaos where strange and often horrifying things dwell in Fortean splendor.
The faces I prefer do not have striking jaw-lines or piercing blue eyes. Instead, I am drawn in a state of near catatonia to visages sporting tentacled chins and piercing fore-claws. Eyes? Just a singular, Cyclopean horror of unblinking, hypnotic skill is enough to send me into a frenzy of terrible shuddering and provoke uncountable sleepless nights. Whenever I do manage to heed the call of Morpheus to "Come, come" my sleep is troubled and oppressed by these maddening visions. I must then get up and write.
My tormented brain chants a continual mantra: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, steam-punk, alternate history, future history, cyberpunk, space opera, scientific romance…mmmm…zombies…alien shape-shifting serial killer spider…Cthulhu mythos….
Like a trapped mink, I'm stuck in the cruelly sharp steel jaws of my own design. Writing is a sweet, albeit temporary, release from the madness, the equivalent of chewing off a foot and limp-running headlong, blindly into the arms of reckless abandon. The Trapper's name is Sanity and I am determined he shall not have my skin!
There are (no doubt) writers whose works are sunshiny blossoms of spring days, all romance and straightforwardness, where there's no mistaking the authors intentions regarding character, setting or plot.
Comparing writing with painting, these writers would rack up with Claude Monet and his Water Lilies. Edgar Degas and his Ballerinas.
My writing is none of that easily definable stuff.
My work is Van Gogh, who, though he painted some pretty sunflowers, he also painted swirling cosmos skies and cut off part of his own ear to embrace his inner madness.
My writing is Jackson Pollock. I desire to chuck many of those elements of my mental mantra onto the page, grab a palette knife and start cutting in, the ink flowing from my fingertips to the keyboard to the blank screen, the chaos taking on form and finally, meaning.
In comparing my work with other speculative fiction authors, my earliest recollections find me contemplating the experiences of being absorbed in the macabre murkiness of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and a starkly surreal and sometimes hellish poem that I often still to this very day find myself reciting snippets of without being cognizant of it called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Then, I found my uncle's sci-fi collection and visited Niven's "Ringworld," became too confused at too early an age by Heinlein's "Stranger In a Strange Land" (but not in too bad a way) and discovered even more treasures at my school and local library.
All of these inspirations are what have fueled my intense longing to create strange phenomena, alien landscapes and slimy vistas of darkness so foul and inhabited by denizens so terrifyingly bizarre as to induce nightmares just by reading about them.
That's what I'm hoping for, anyway.
Yes, my friends, I am insane. But it's okay.
I am a writer. I can live no other way.
Dedicated to H.P. and to the author who is the source of my writer's "Quote of the Week" for this blog this week, E.L. Doctorow, who said: "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."
To listen to a truly creepy audio version of "Dagon" visit "The Drabblecast." Clicking this link will take you directly to the site. "The Drabblecast" is a weekly short fiction podcast. The stories there are mostly narrated by the extremely talented and creepy voice of Norm Sherman.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Quite possibly, my muse was a frog that was transformed and lived a very unhappy life as a muse. Thus I am tormented with crazy but brilliant (IMHO) ideas concerning frogs. Or an equally plausible reason is that the frogs living in the tree outside my bedroom window are actually brainwashing me as I sleep with their incessant chirping.
Whatever the motivating factor is, I have been thinking about the whole Frog Prince story lately. You know, the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm? It inspired me to do a twitfic (for those of you who don't know, a twitfic--or twabble--is a one hundred character story, not including spaces) about it. See "Pop Culture Fairy Tale" in an older post.
That failed to calm my muse on the subject.
I started getting the notion that perhaps there was another side to the story. One that needed to be told. And maybe, just maybe, the Grimm's got the story from a rather biased, and therefore unreliable source. The princess. Did anyone even bother to discover how the frog really felt? Was he happy about being a prince and marrying the princess? What if he wasn't?
Now, with thoughts like these, an ordinary person might think: "Who cares?"
Writers are not ordinary people.
So, I've started writing the a new take on the classic tale from the frogs perspective. I'm calling it "The Reluctant Prince." I'm not intending it to be very long, or to take too much time in the telling. But tell it, I must.
Maybe then my frog prince muse will let me sleep at night.
Until the next inspiration, anyway.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I've been accused of being a closet librarian, I love books so much and spend so much time in Dewey Decimal World.
I am on my local library's website searching for books more than I check my damn email.
So, I go to pick up some books today that I have requested from other libraries in the area, since my library didn't have them. I approach the desk and hand the librarian my card and say, "I believe you're holding some books for me."
She looks at me and laughs, "So what else is new, Miss Kelly?"
If they'd let me, I'd put up a cot in the science fiction and fantasy section, being the speculative fiction reader version of the "The Self-Taught Man" character in the Jean-Paul Sartre novel "Nausea" that works his way through the library from A-to-Z.
Today I picked up a fabulously cool book called "Dragonology" by Ernest Drake and Dugald Steer. It looks like an ancient book. It's large (like, coffee-table book sized, but not very many pages) and it had tons of stuff in it, like samples of dragon scales and wing membranes. It looks sort of like a book you'd expect to find at Hogwarts, in Harry Potter's world. I am going to get a lot out of it for research on my dragon story (and possible future novel).
I also found a pretty good article online from the NY Times Science section from 2003 on dragons and where we, as humans, may have gotten the idea of them. It's called "From Many Imaginations, One Fearful Creature," and if you want to, you can click on that title and read the article.
I've been filling the "Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dragon" section of my story notebook with all kinds of great ideas and information, and hope this book and article will be the fuel providing me with more energetic thoughts on the matter.
I've also got to start researching psychological information for my novel "The Coffee Wars." This story is about humanity becoming enslaved to an alien race through hypnosis and addiction to a powerful drug and how we struggle to break the bonds and fight our enemy. Our biggest enemy in this story is not our alien oppressors, but our own weaknesses. No surprises there.
This novel concept grew out of a short story I wrote called "We Hardly Ever Cry Anymore." It's a very short, flash fiction piece that is first person narrative of an unnamed protagonist who relates his experiences of being a "worker" on a farm that grows and processes the alien plant Waithyll into the drug that desensitizes and enslaves humanity through a detached euphoria. I've been told by too many of my friends that this piece needed to be part of something bigger, and so, the idea for "The Coffee Wars" was born.
I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo next year, God willing and the muse doesn't go on strike. I am seriously considering doing "The Coffee Wars" as my NaNoWriMo novel. I'll have to think about it.
I wonder, does it count if you've already started?
So. There you have it. I am keeping very busy with research. I plan on doing some writing on "Tiny Dragon" this weekend.
I also have a huge pile of books to read.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I inhale your chemistry and my lips find
the throbbing pulse of your throat,
wishing for this tender embrace to last
for one more day...
“stay with me...stay...”
These anticipated reunions are thrilling!
when long distance love is pursued
on the I-4 corridor, three hours become an
eternity driving “Malfunction Junction”,
wipers thudding to the rhythm of the rain...
“there will be magic in the Magic Kingdom tonight...”
Oh, but long goodbyes are heart-rending!
I stand on my tip-toes at the Clearwater terminal
and steal a parting kiss from the corner
of your mouth as you watch them load
luggage into the metal belly of the Greyhound bus, then
you pull me into your sensual response...
“get a room!” someone on the bus yells. and we laugh, faces wet with tears...
How long now have we been playing at this?
I knew better when I met you at your brother’s party
on the beach...and I spurned you. But you were tenacious, and
sought me out whenever you were in town. Your patience
and gentle demeanor wore me down, melted me, until I
was a dripping icicle in your warm arms with that first kiss...
now on the precipice of another goodbye, our sighs echoing the need...
I can’t bear to watch you pack the car. You look up with
red-rimmed eyes, try to hide your sorrow with a smile.
That’s my big man. I have decided that I won’t cry
until you leave the driveway. But that doesn’t work: the tears start
falling as soon as you take me in your arms. Our lips
find each other and we drink long and deep of our mutual thirst...
“goodbye, my love. now we count down the days ‘til the next hello...”
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I've been enjoying the holiday and will be saddened to have to see that all come to an end in a few days. On the other hand, we get to turn around and do it all again in just a few weeks.
I've spent the last day-and-a-half working on putting together a notebook for two short stories: Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dragon and Queendom of the Harpies.
If you've read this lately, you'll note that a couple of posts back I declared that Tiny Dragon was nearing completion, Elagrom's journey almost at it's conclusion. So why now start a notebook on this story?
The first is this: even though I am 4300+ words into this beautiful saga of Elagrom the Shepherd, and I have stated that the end is in sight (which in my mind it is), I have absolutely no idea how much more I will have to write until that end is reached. I wish writing was that easy.
Secondly, I have amassed a great deal of information in researching this story: dragon lore, dragon anatomy, the properties of lodestone and other magnetic compounds (which has yet to come into play in the story). I need a place to keep all of that information. Sure, I keep a record of information and webpages in the StoryMill research section (great writing software, StoryMill. I thoroughly recommend it.) I have print-outs of all that stuff, though, and I like to physically put my hands on it and study it. I need to do something on my breaks at work.
Thirdly, and I've mentioned this on past posts as well. this story may spill over into a novel set in the same world and history at some point. I'd like to be able to have all of the notes and research available to me whenever I take up that gauntlet. And every day I'm coming more and more to the feeling that I will take it up.
So, I'm making a Tiny Dragon notebook. Sharing the same notebook, on the other side of the middle pocket divider is the section for Queendom of the Harpies.
Harpies is a new story concept and I haven't begun writing it yet. I have started compiling information, both handwritten notes and printed web research and I need to start gathering all of that material into one location and start really planning the story. The notebook will be my primary tool for that as well.
A story notebook can be one of the writer's most dependable tools, and the one they come to depend on most. It helps you keep ideas, characterizations and plotlines straight in addition to being a place to keep all of your research. Keeping information tightly organized is a habit that must be learned by all beginning writers. I am still learning how to do it and using notebooks helps me tremendously.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Registered for the "Random Question" feature on the profile section of this blog and the first question I got was "Chicken Monkey Shoes?" My answer there is only slightly different, but I couldn't make 'alpaca' work in a twitfic and not many folks know what an alpaca is.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
It's Thanksgiving day.
Time for family, food and football.
Time to meditate on our blessings and thank God for all that He has provided for us over the past year.
I wonder how many people really take the time out on this busy day to do just that. We need to. I'm going to take the lead and list out ten things I'm thankful for this year.
- Jesus. My lover and my spouse. I know I should always put You first, yet, You still love me when I don't. I know You have great things in store for me, and I can't wait to walk the path as it unfolds.
- I have a good job. Not too many people can say that this year. I praise God for mine.
- Economic Stability. Money has been tight for me, but it could be worse and I thank You, Jesus, that I'm getting by.
- My friends. They keep me shored up by their prayers and intercede for me daily, I know.
- My health. It has not been that good this year. I've had a procedure on my right eye (a cryopexy to treat a blood-vessel tumor) and a mysterious illness that seems to be getting worse involving intense cramping in my feet and legs, lethargy and migraines. Will see rheumatologists and neurologists in the future to try and get diagnosed. Still, I can walk and talk and breathe. Praise the Lord!
- My gifts. My writing and speaking abilities have served Him in the past year in remarkable ways. He has used my skills to work miracles and has let me see it. I am doubly blessed. He is probably less than thrilled about my fiction writing, but I try not to go out on too far of a limb there. A time may come when He leads me to work only for His Kingdom. If that's what He wants from me, He'll get it. I learned long ago that my arms are just too short to box with Him.
- My faith. As a convert, I have a profound love for my Catholic faith and sometimes suffer persecutions for it. I try to suffer them as Jesus did, as a lamb led to the slaughter, silent and always praying for my enemies. My faith is the foundation of my life. There was a time when I didn't believe in God and I honestly don't know how I made it out of that deep well of despair, but I'm glad I did.
- My family. Scattered and dysfunctional as we are, I recognize that they shaped me into what I am today and I'm grateful for their presence in my life.
- My saints. My intercessors and protectors who have watched over me this past year and have saved my life a few times by keeping me from bad car accidents (narrowly missed serious crashes at least twice that I know of). St. Michael the Archangel, for lessons in spiritual warfare. St. John of the Cross for teaching me self-emptying love of God and neighbor. St. Therese of Lisieux for showing me the "Little Way" to God by the virtue of humility.
- The Little Miracles. I am eternally grateful that God has opened my eyes to the wonders of His world. I always have appreciated weather and nature. I love them all the more dearly now since I am able to see His hand in all things. Even the tragic. I had a non-believer friend ask me, "How can you believe in God, after seeing the death and destruction an EF5 tornado does?" My answer was this: "God's purpose is not clear. I do know I've seen people who were once enemies reconciled and complete strangers helping one another. But, I've also seen people come apart. I don't know. I'm just hopeful that one day it will all make sense." Sure, God brings the tornadoes and hurricanes. I believe He also brings the rainbow, the cool breeze on a hot day and a much-needed rain on dry lands. I always try to look for the Little Miracles in everyday life. They are everywhere, for anyone who wants to see them. Just open your eyes and look around you.
Ask God to reveal them to you.
And then thank Him for them.
May God continue to bless you in the coming year.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
There are definitely monsters under the bed
and in the closet. But, they are terrified of grown-ups.
If you see one, call a grown-up immediately.
When you are sick, learn the art of waiting.
I know it's hard to stay still with that thermometer in your
mouth for so long, but, believe me,
the alternative is worse.
Bumblebees, though brightly-colored and pretty,
do not like to be petted. If you insist, they will make
you go “Ouch” and you will cry. A lot.
Cats are not dogs. They do not like to be picked up
and forced to sit on your lap. They will not allow it, actually.
Mommy and Daddy can not be with you all of the time.
Either learn to get yourself out of jams or do not
get yourself in them in the first place.
God is bigger than the bogeyman. And a lot nicer.
So remember to say your prayers at night, every night of your life.
You can't be everything to everyone.
You can only be the best 'you' that you can be
for whoever needs you at the moment.
Not everyone you meet will be nice to you.
Someone will call you names.
Don't retaliate. They are probably hurting inside.
Someone will break your heart.
Don't stop loving people. Instead, love them more.
Someone will betray your trust.
Keep on trusting, but be smart about it.
Eventually, someone else will earn your trust again.
Scraped elbows, skinned knees,
cut fingertips and stubbed toes,
heal more quickly than
bruised egos, wounded pride,
and broken hearts,
and they hurt a whole lot less.
Someone you love will leave you. Forever.
Let your grief wash over you for a time, then, carry
your memories like a light inside you and they will
make you happy when nothing else can.
It's okay to fail. Wisdom is born from failures.
It's not okay not to try.
Eventually, you will get older, frailer, sicker.
There is nothing you can do about it.
Eventually, God will call you to come home.
This doesn't have to be scary.
There are many other things I'd like to tell you,
many other lessons you will learn.
These will be your lessons, unique to you.
Trust your instincts. Follow your heart.
And when you have learned something useful,
pass your knowledge along
to someone else who needs it
as they walk on the road to wisdom.
For the road is long
and we only stop learning
when we reach the end of it.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
SPC AC 250029
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0629 PM CST TUE NOV 24 2009
VALID 250100Z - 251200Z
...NO SVR TSTM AREAS FORECAST...
WATER VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS A LARGE CLUSTER OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO. THIS ACTIVITY IS LIKELY ASSOCIATED WITH A SOUTHERN STREAM UPPER JET MAX THAT IS FORECAST TO TRACK EAST-NORTHEASTWARD OVERNIGHT AND APPROACH THE FL PENINSULA BY 25/12Z. A MOIST AND MARGINALLY UNSTABLE AIR MASS IS NOW IN PLACE OVER FL...WITH DEEP LAYER VERTICAL SHEAR SUFFICIENT FOR SOME RISK OF ROTATING STORMS. HOWEVER...00Z RAOBS SUGGEST THAT LOW LEVEL VERTICAL SHEAR IS WEAK AND MID LEVEL LAPSE RATES POOR. THIS IS EXPECTED TO LIMIT THE INTENSITY OF STORMS AS THEY SPREAD INTO THE REGION LATE TONIGHT. AN ISOLATED TORNADO CANNOT BE RULED OUT...BUT CURRENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT THREAT DOES NOT WARRANT A SLIGHT RISK
This means that radiosonde observations are showing that we do have some shear in place, and although it is weak, it may be enough to fuel a mesocyclone. But possibly not since the adiabatic lapse rates are not significant. Still, the deadliest tornadoes have occurred at night when they can't be seen that well. If you hear a loud roar, people, get your asses to the safest place you have! Since we have no basements to speak of in Florida, an interior room or narrow hallway is a good option, somewhere away from windows and anything breakable. Throw a blanket over you, if you have time.
If you are outside: find a low-lying area or a ditch. DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS. I can't say this to enough people. Folks have been killed doing that. The possibility of the winds ripping you out from under there are just too great.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Elder Ones went first.
The Astronomers were certain the capsules would remain unopened until they reached their destination: the planet they had seen in visions.
One of the Elders landed near an island on the new world.
The hatch opened slowly and Cthulhu emerged, stretched his scaly body and shook his tentacled head. He lumbered off to explore his new domain and search for eager supplicants.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Bloom is Off the Rose:
Writing this story past the two sex scenes has proven difficult, as I am not accustomed to using sex to accentuate the stories I write. However, after careful consideration, I felt that the brief, erotic scenes of lovemaking between the characters Saepheus Rado and Ambassador Pietri were essential to the plot of the story and add to the intimacy of the deep relationship between these two characters. If I feel they aren't necessary after it is completed, the two scenes will be edited to tone down the content or one may be taken out (Saepheus' birthday gift, perhaps).
Questions that may occur to the reader as they are digesting the story: Why the terrorist attack on the Courian Consulate? Who did it? Will there be retribution? How do the strange blue Courian "longevity" stones fit in? I know the answers already to these questions. The trick, however, is when to reveal them in the story. I need to think about that.
A Better Plan Will Be Set In Motion:
I have begun this story with a nod to one of my favorite animals in the short sentence: "The frog was dead." I am still working on hammering out the linguistics of the Pyncos, an alien race of oxygen-breathing jellyfish-types who communicate with emotive telepathy. They have extreme difficulties in speaking with us and we have a hard time translating what they are saying, let alone carrying on a conversation with them. There is one man aboard the ship Sargasso who has seemed singularly gifted in conversing with them, however: the lowly Jesus freak cryo-tech Bryan Keller, who is the secret object of the captains affections.
Working out speech mode for the Pyncos is a challenge, since they begin every communicated thought by expressing an accentuated emotion. We humans can only ineffectively render an adequate translation of Pynco-speech. The reality of it is much more complicated. Here is a sample conversation:
[~neutral~//like us/much/you are]
"We are nothing like you."
[~stress~//physical not//emotional not//mental not//social construct yes]
"Only vaguely. And there the similarity ends."
[~neutral~//one eiten//one poden//post indefinite]
The problem for me is not to let the story get too caught up in the mere linguistics of Pynco-speech. Using the translated speech when dealing with the captain and rest of the crew is a solution. Then, the Pynco mind speech can be used only when Bryan is speaking privately with them. This, hopefully, could add tension and drama, as the rest of the crew will not know what is going on at those moments.
Questions the reader might have: Why can Bryan communicate with the Pyncos and no one else can? Good question. My hope is that they keep reading to find out.
Armageddon Leaves a Weary Witness:
Have begun it, but need to hammer out some notes on it. And do some little research. Another psychological space drama, set in a concentration camp/prison of sorts. This story contains a race of aliens that I am conceptualizing in another story (see: "Medicine Makes You Sicker" in this post) and whose planet I've alluded to in a drabble (see "Cosmic Chicken Inn" in another post below). I'm referring to the Waznians. Wazn is a real star in the Columba constellation.
The protagonist in this story is not Waznian, however. He is an imprisoned alien from the planet Kidrun, who sports "twenty appendages" and wears a portion of his brain outside his body. A bad place for it as it turns out, because it makes it easier for his Waznian (he calls them Wasnins) and human captors to torture him using electro-stimulation to simultaneously generate sensations both pleasurable and painful to him. Poor guy. This story is uncomfortable to write as I am exploring how twisted the human psyche can get when we want something. It's meant to be uncomfortable for the reader as well. We are not the good guys in this story. Well, one of us might be.
Queendom of the Harpies (concept stage):
Still doing the research on this one and gathering notes, reading lots of mythology.
Idea behind it: Mythological beasts in the form of vulture-like women inhabit a city office building, making life hell for one administrative assistant at a law firm. Inspiration for my Twitfic: "How Do You Kill a Harpy?" (see older post).
Medicine Makes You Sicker (concept stage):
So, we turn out to be pretty good intergalactic allies with these Waznians. That might not be such a great idea for several reasons. Waznian infectious disease is mental illness. They pass insanity like we pass the common cold. And now they are sending us to the asylums in droves. Not only that...it turns out Waznians have a strange religion that seems to bear a striking resemblance to a cult mentioned in the "ficticious" works of an early twentieth-century horror writer. Aliens, contagious madness and Cthulhu, set in a mental institution by the sea. What the hell could be better than that? Plus, I get to attempt to become part of the whole Cthulhu Mythos thing and that's just too freaking sweet to pass up. The ultimate fan fic club.
Also still working on trying to finish "Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dragon" and fleshing out the story lines behind the novel "The Coffee Wars." Will work on Dragon tomorrow, perhaps.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The sky was beginning to darken.
Suddenly, a very bright light stabbed through the branches overhead, shimmering oddly.
A spaceship landed in front of me.
I jumped up, startled. A scream caught in my throat.
Then, the aliens emerged: five little green men. One ran up and snatched the notebook from my hands. Scurrying back to his brethren, he began tearing paper out, handing the torn pages to each of them.
I guess they were hungry.
(Submitted to The Drabblecast on 9/19/09. Just forgot to post it on this blog when I started it. Well, better late than never.)
They’re located 42 AU away on Rigel 7, but worth the wait. I logged in to place my order, waiting for the wireless ansible to connect.
“Cosmic Chicken Inn, this is Zephod. Pick-up or delivery?”
“Delivery. I’d like two Buckets o’ Birds, four Waznian Lizard Sticks, a side of Hashisha Slaw and a glazed doughnut,” I said, transmitting my coordinates.
“Don’t forget. Hang a right at the Oort Cloud,” I added.
“It’ll be about two hours,” replied Zephod.
“Two hours? I hope you don’t break the speed limit.”
The artifact resembled an enormous crystalline worm buried in the earth. A nearby cave led them down into a chamber filled with alien devices. Numerous bones lay scattered all around.
What they thought was the artifact blocked the passageway on the opposite side.
A portal was set into the construct, lined with spikes that sparkled like icicles.
They understood too late as the chamber began broadcasting black noise.
The worm was ready to feed.
(This drabble was submitted both to Drabblecast's drabble forum and to Sam's Dot Publishing "Drabbler #16" Contest, the theme of which is "Alien Architecture." Drabblecaster's are submitting some mighty good 100 word stories for this thus far. I hope some of us at least get in the magazine and earn a crisp new George Washington for all our hard drabbling.)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We are in the seventh hour of this accursed vision.
I have no doubt we will die today, for the scourge of God is upon us.
We, the townspeople, continue to stare at this cylindrical tower of fire in the sky, whose violence will not abate.
Mighty birds of prey fly in and out of it, through its numerous doors and windows. They swoop down, snatching small animals in their terrible talons, then drop them to the ground, dead. They tear large trees up by their roots.
All our hopes seem scattered by the winds.
(I knew I would have to do a drabble like this, sooner or later.)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Bobby shivered. This man murdered his family while Bobby hid, terrified.
Years later, Bobby watched as guards led the murderer into Sparky’s waiting embrace. He wanted his nightmares to die in the lightning. The lights flickered. The killer wailed, “I’m coming back for you!”
When Bobby grew old, those words still haunted him as he sat in his rocking chair.
The lights flickered, went out.
“Now you all growed up,” whispered the shadow.
Friday, November 13, 2009
It was an interesting little slide show class that featured much of the information about severe weather that I already knew from having studied it enthusiastically for most of my life. Such facts as Florida's #1 weather-related killer being lightning (#2 is flash flooding-PLEASE don't drive through standing water during or after a heavy rain). I was a little disappointed that it did not contain information regarding highway overpasses as being a VERY UNSAFE place to take shelter during a tornado. I think more people need to get that message as there seems to be a great deal of misinformation out there.
The section on tornadogenesis and the figures showing the anatomy of supercell structures were nice but they were not very big, and they were bitmap images, so when I tried to make them bigger they just got all pixelated and ugly. Luckily, I was able to find similar graphics on the web by merely searching for information on supercells.
A BIG plus to the program is that there are downloadable PDF manuals to use to advance your knowledge of storms and what to report as a spotter. Nice information on hail but they tended to repeat themselves on the method of reporting it. Okay, I get it. Don't report hail as "marble sized." Dime/penny/nickel/quarter/half-dollar/golf ball/tennis ball/baseball. I'll be ready for the that question if it comes up on the test.
I'm not quite ready for the exam. I want to go through the lessons again and take notes. There are several sections pertaining to statistical data on the types of tornados and storms we get in Florida and how to report them. I want to jot down that stuff. I just know some of it will come up on the test.
I'm still gathering research material for a short story that is in the conception stage right now titled "Queendom of the Harpies," in which a beleaguered office worker tries to find a way to get rid of the mythical bitches she works with.
I'm also working on a couple of new drabbles to submit to The Drabblecast, but for this weekend (snot-nosed and under the weather am I) my goals are to rest and work on "Tiny Dragon."
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
They discovered remnants of an ancient, barbaric civilization. Dwellings taller than the world loomed over them. They wondered what sort of creatures populated the planet before.
Then, they found the pictures.”
Mr. Finny held one up for the class to see.
The children squealed in mock terror, covering their eyes with their foremost tentacles.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I'm so chuffed about this bit of news!
Pinellas County SKYWARN Spotter training can now be done online via this neat little slideshow class. When you have finished viewing the training modules, you can take your certification exam online also.
I finally feel this year that I am ready to finish the program and get my certification.
I have been obsessed with severe weather since I was 9 years old. On one oppressively hot and humid day, (April 3rd, 1974) I saw my first funnel cloud in the Super Outbreak near my hometown of Washington Court House, Ohio.
SKYWARN Spotters are often the first to witness a tornado on the ground. Their reports can save lives. Hook Echoes (Tornado Vortex Signatures) are not always clear on radar, so a Spotter's report can make a big difference in weather reporting.
This is particularly important in Florida, as we can have severe weather at any time of the year. The Tampa Bay area has an average of 100 thunderstorms per year (I'm so glad I moved here) and has the designation of being the "lightning capital of the U.S.A."
I will keep posting reports of my progress toward getting Spotter certified.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
bouncing and dipping
beneath your comfortable, transparent
little plastic dome - what cares
have you? or follies? or fears?
the laws are clear:
emergency vessels have limited fuel
total mass must be x exactly
thus, and no more
or ship and pilot will perish
along with precious cargo: medicine to cure a half-dozen,
dying men on the surface of a frontier world.
mass is > x
> by 110 lbs.
the weight of death.
the pilot has one option (and
this is also the law): jettison the "dead weight"
to put the needle back to center. but …
it was just a girl...
frightened but happy
she wanted to see her brother
sooner than the transport
would allow her to...so...
she stowed away on the EDS before it launched
away from the transport.
she did not understand astrophysics and
fuel to mass ratios...all the precise measurements
she could only cry
her words haunting the pilot
ringing in his ears, pleading
as he confronted her with her fate.
i have done nothing to deserve to die!
and ringing again
after the lock cycled
on the hard vacuum of space
and the harder choice of colder calculations -
x was exact again
and no more.
(The classic story "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin inspired this. A pilot is forced by ship weight restrictions to eject an 18-year old stowaway into space.)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A strange desire fills me. I dismiss it as madness.
Sensing movement, I turn. A familiar gaze, like looking at an old mirror, cracked and gray, meets mine. "I’ll see you in twenty years," he says.
He jumps, gracefully arcing, mounting the oscillating arm like a fireman's pole. Our mental connection surprises me, then he winks and I understand.
My vardoger fades out of existence.
I replay the scene in my mind over and over, so that when the time comes, I’ll be able to execute it perfectly again.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
She pondered the absolute pointlessness of her love life. She'd had many lovers recently and none of them had understood or really satisfied her. But they were smart, and she’d learned something new from each one of them.
"After all," she sighed, "I loved them for their brains."
She lifted the oozing skull of her latest lover to her lips and, making loud slurping noises, sucked the brainpan clean.
I found out about the affair six months ago and spent the last two preparing my goodbye. I waited calmly, just beyond the perimeter of my hastily scrawled handiwork. I heard the key turning in the lock.
Donald stepped inside and smiled at me. “Hi, honey! I’m home.”
His last words echoed shock and pain as he was suddenly consumed by the bright, hot flames which erupted and descended back into the pentagram scratched upon the floor where Donald had once stood.
“No,” I laughed madly. “Now you’re home.”
Most did not return.
The end of the tunnel opened upon a smooth, yellow canyon. The People called the canyon: "Death" because a giant was rumored to live there.
One day, a forager ventured into the canyon: alone and frightened. All he felt before the end was a rush of air from above.
The giant removed its shoe and scraped the dead thing into the swirling lake nearby.
“Damn frogs in the bathtub again!” it said.
Since one can endure only so much of anything, the stunned little paperback crept sheepishly away from those two naughty tomes and jumped to the shelf below.
There, it nestled comfortably between Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.
Within minutes, the people on the cover began ducking, shaking their fists as arrows and bullets whizzed past their heads, dangerously close.
The book catapulted to the shelf underneath, sighing with fatigue. It squeezed between Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost.
And then all hell broke loose.
Announcer: Buy “Fartles and Blames!” The wine cooler with the interesting smell everyone’s talking about.
Bottle Number 1: “Oh, man! You stink! That’s one serious bomb you just dropped. Do you need a doctor?”
Bottle Number 2: “That’s not me, man! This guy beside me must have done it! Whew! It smells like a bad bag of boiled peanuts in here!" (Turns to Bottle Number 3 and says): "Couldn’t you have waited until you were alone, dude? I mean, seriously!”
Bottle Number 3: “He who smelt it dealt it! I didn’t do any thing."
Bottle Number 4 remains strangely silent.
Monday, November 2, 2009
The purpose of this blog is to contain all my thoughts and writing, scientific and otherwise, that might ultimately bore the crap out of my non-geek friends. Warning: I will talk about the weather. A lot. Hence the name. Lenticular clouds form in mountainous regions and they have often been mistaken for UFO's. Yeah, they are that freaking cool.
Also, some of this material will not always be kid-friendly and I have my friends with kids checking out my religious writings on my other blog. I'm a Christian, but I'm far from perfect. I don't force my beliefs on anyone, but at the same time, I give the devil a huge and hearty shout out of "F*** you!" Be aware that you may encounter some bad language and sexual situations in the writings that I post on this site. I won't always asterisk them out.
Keeping this amalgamated life organized is a neat trick that I am only beginning to learn. I'm not always successful, but damn it sure is interesting.If you want to check out my religious writings, the blog name is "Adventures in Amalgamation."