Sailors on the Sea

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Simple Sad Truth

What does it mean to expect a thing, and then it doesn’t happen
What does it mean to hope and dream, and know it is not true
When dreams are dashed, when hopes fade dim, the light goes from the day
And sadness, grief, and loneliness, fills a soul with blue

What is it that will make us dream, make us think we can
What is it that will give us hope, and make us try again
When failure follows failure, and knowledge proves so wrong
Is it time to call it off, and let fading hopes just wane

To believe is joy, to hope is song, to try again is glee
It makes us young, it makes us strong, it’s the same for you and me
Until reality strikes home, and orders dreams to cease
And tells us that we are forsaken, alone is all we’ll be

The Potter makes his vessels, some he makes of clay
Some he makes of copper, gold, or glass or wood or stone
And some he makes for wasteful things, to carry them away
These paper cups, and plastic trays, are set off all alone

It’s hard just being garbage, cast off with rotting smells
It’s hard not having value, no purpose wise and good
But the dung beetle is what it is, and does just what it does
For me to be just nothing now, it’s what I really should

What Makes a Bad Story

One thing I hate about modern storytelling is the apparent need to hammer some social message into the reader/viewer. They (someone) have taken perfectly fine old stories from my childhood and changed them, adding messages where no message was intended. Removing slapstick because some a*shole finds it offensive. Well, what about the cr*p they spew out? I find it offensive.

The original Charlie Brown cartoons were about Charlie Brown failing. That was the endearing quality of the strip. And Charles Schultz made a lot of social statements in the process. He just couched them in satire instead of syrupy gloop which offends even young people. The later cartoons had Charlie Brown actually winning a baseball game. That seems sacrilege to me.

They remade a Tom and Jerry cartoon and had the characters talk, or so I was told. When I heard that I wouldn't see the movie. Tom and Jerry were only allowed to make sound when in pain. Then they got to scream. I'm sorry, but it was funny.

Lord of the Rings was a great book, but it wasn't about the race of men proving anything. It was about a world going through a transition from one way of life to another, and what it took for it to happen. Peter Jackson made a good movie, but he ruined the story.

It seems the powers that be have determined that modern readers insist on this dribble, and so they continue to put out substandard product. The truth is, the best works of fiction have no agenda - beyond telling a story.

That social commentary will be made is inevitable. However, when said commentary is done as part of the backwash of a story, as opposed to being the story, the commentary is accepted as natural, like the sound of water splashing at an old mill next to a river. When the commentary is the story, it's like this poorly made western I saw. They were in the desert hills of Arizona, and what is in the background? The songs of marsh birds. And whenever anyone would shoot and miss, hitting the sandy ground, we would hear ricochets.

That's what social commentary stories are to me. Cr*p. I'm not against social commentary. But it makes for terrible stories.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

As The Wheel Turns

Ah, yes. The Wheel. Recently, I have had my time at the top of the curve, feeling inspired about a host of things and getting a lot of things done, despite the feeling nothing got done.

The euphoric feeling of being on top is quite wonderful. Unfortunately, it never lasts. The Wheel doesn't stop for a moment, and like the summer season which so make me happy, the season changes and chills. I fall over The Wheel's side and drop to the bottom, where inspiration is hard to come by, and faith and confidence don't enter. Guess they can't breathe down here. They await my rise to the surface which, like winter, seems to take forever.

I wish I had paints. Not the big gallon cans used for painting walls and such. Little tubes of acrylic colors, squeezed out onto a pallette while I sit before an easel with a stretched canvas. I could splatter meaningless colors across the whitewashed background, expressing emotion in ways I only struggle with in words. But, to be honest, I expect I would find such expression just as difficult.

Sometimes, it's hard to express what one is feeling because one is not quite sure what it is one is feeling.

Like an explosive charge the feeling awaits the lighting of the fuse, or the spark of inspiration. Then it will burst forth in wondrous splendor. Meanwhile, like the ugly containers explosives so often come in, I wait and wonder. Just what is it am I feeling anyway? And why do I want to give up again when it seems like yesterday I had faith.

The Wheels turns.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'd Like to Teach the World to Laugh

Its fury roared like a raging torrent of water falling endlessly over the cliff which marked the beginning of death and the end of life for so many who had gone before. Vapor rose around it like dragon's breath, choking final remnants of comfort and ease from its victims' throats. The violence of its ceaseless cry echoed through the forest, spreading terror far and wide. And all the while darkness loomed like a vulture awaiting its next meal.

And now, the weather.

Sunny skies. Mild temperatures. Another cold summer day.

In case you haven't guessed for yourself, there isn't much going on today. Getting something of an emotional build-up, but can't seem to find the correct valve to open to grant release. So I thought I would be silly. Why not? It's what I do best.

I'm sitting here looking at a wine bottle sock and I'm reminded of the boss who decided I belonged in the half of the department which needed to go away.

What's a wine bottle sock? It's what my Christmas present came in back when I worked. I still remember having this conversation with the manager like a week or two before Christmas and for some reason the topic of alcohol came up. Although not a drunkard, he liked to drink, and asked me what my favorite beverages were. I told him I could not drink alcohol. Had found out the hard way that when alcohol mixes with my stomach medicine I could die. So what present do I get from the manager that Christmas? A bottle of wine. I guess that should have been my clue he wanted to get rid of me.

Kind of like a time when I was young and got into real trouble at school. I was being silly and startled the teacher. She put her hand over her heart and exclaimed, "Bevie! You scared me half to death." I did it again.

Had to stand out in the hall for an hour or two after that.

I like being silly. Sometimes. Most of the time. I have no problem laughing at things that aren't supposed to be laughed at. I guess that's why I have such a problem with modern society. Modern society seems to have trouble laughing. We're always looking to be offended about something. I think people are losing/have lost the ability to distinguish being good old-fashioned fun and true intent. There is a difference, and it generally isn't that difficult to tell the two apart. But rather than try to figure it out, people just get mad. What a shame.

In my opinion, the Bush Administration had it all wrong. They said fighting and killing and standing strong would defeat terrorism. I think victory comes with laughter. I'm probably wrong. So what? I intend to be silly anyway.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No Shortage of Work

I just did an inventory check of what I have going on right now - writing wise. Right now, including blogs, I have fourteen active writing projects.
  • The Great Sea - That's this blog. Good until tomorrow.
  • Swords of Fire: Traitor - Query rejected. Need to write synopsis for submission to new agent. Not begun. Not clear on how to write a synopsis.
  • Swords of Fire: Prophecies of Madatar - First edit completed. Need another edit pass to reduce manuscript by at least 40,000-words.
  • Swords of Fire: Military History - Completed 73 years. Only 279 years remaining.
  • Panthera: On Trial For Treason - Need to write next installment for Saturday post on Legion of On-Line Super Heroes.
  • Feathered Guy Anthropist: Twice the Fun - Need to write next installment for Tuesday (tomorrow) post on Legion of On-Line Super Heroes.
  • Khiava and Amice - Waiting to hear on submission for publication of first installment in the series. Need to write third installment.
  • Pootles and Putz - First episode written. Need to write second.
  • Sassy and Otio - Two episodes written. Need to write third.
You know, I don't really mind having so much to do. What's unfortunate is I tend to use up all my time in a day before I can accomplish as much as I would like. I suppose it's a good thing I'm not at all satisfied with my drawing ability or I would be inundated with several projects to illustrate some of the above projects.

On top of all of the above projects are a few I have set aside for the time being.
  • Swords of Fire: Bonds of Love - This is the third in my Swords of Fire Saga. I've completed nearly seven chapters and have over 50,000-words. No written work has taken place since June of 2008.
  • Animal Kingdom - This is an old project I tried to revive this spring. Completed the fourth chapter and then set it aside in favor of other concerns.
  • Power of Music - This is a new project I came up with just this year. Started it, but quickly set it aside in favor of other concerns.
  • Firestar: Lion Cat of the North - This is a cat-based hero story I came up with for Cat in the Buff. Actually posted a first episode. Just have to continue the story.
All told, there are eighteen projects listed in this post. I don't know if that's a lot or not. It's more than I can get done in just a few days or weeks, that I know. But people who write stories are constantly working out details for their projects. So I think anyway. That's what I do. Inevitably, getting the creative juices flowing in one direction gets them flowing fast, which causes a backup in the flow, which causes spillage from the current channel, which creates new channels, which get the creative juices flowing, etc., etc., etc.

Is that how you write? Or am I just odd? (Well, I suppose it's not impossible that you write like that, too, and I am still odd.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Step Right Up and Buy Your Ticket - Win the Big Prize

So now I have to write a synopsis for Swords of Fire: Traitor. Oh, joy! That's if I wish to submit a query to the agency I found to replace the latest agency which wants nothing to do with me. Don't people realize how difficult it was just to write the d*mned query letter? Now I have to write a synopsis! You know, I don't really know how to do that.

I mean, how many words should a synopsis be before it's long enough - without being too long? Traitor has 22 chapters and 4 interludes. Technically, each of those should get their own paragraph, right? That's 26 paragraphs. Okay. But how many sentences am I allowed/required to devote to each chapter? Sometimes I think Lucy Van Pelt had it right.

Linus wanted her to read him a story. She wasn't keen on it, but her mother ordered her to. So she picked up the book and read: "There was a man. He was born, he lived, and then he died. The end."

Linus responded with awe: "Almost makes one feel like they knew the man."

Probably my biggest problem with the entire thing is the mathematics of the thing. Statistically, no matter who I send the query to next (with or without a synopsis) I'm going to get another rejection. That's just the way it is. Some very great books have been rejected by some very brilliant agents and editors. And while more than a few people (in and out of the writing business) remind me how this writer or that was rejected such and such number of times, I don't exactly find it to be cheery news. All that does is fuel my suspicions that getting published isn't much different than winning the lottery. There seems to be an inordinate amount of luck involved. Yes, I know. Statements like that are an affront, and we're not supposed to admit they might actually be true. It's all supposed to be skill and genius, so that when (if) we finally do become published we can pat ourselves on the back and remind ourselves that we now have proof of our brilliance and genius.


It's this luck factor piece which keeps me confused about knowing whether anything is good or not. I've read books that are complete cr*p. Yet that author was published. Someone read the thing and cried out, "Hey! We can make some money off this." And they did. Meanwhile, better works (such as mine) are given the standard heave ho. "Sorry, but this doesn't meet our needs at this time." Well, I'm sorry, too, but I just can't be there to kick you in your a*s, slap you alongside your head and yell, "Hello? Anybody in there?"

Sorry. Couldn't resist. You know you've felt like that, too, after your own rejections.

I'm just daunted by the prospect of another writing exercise in which the consequences are extremely high. I have to do it, though. It's the rules of the game, and if I don't buy a ticket I can't win the lottery. Right?

I just wish I knew how to write the d*mned thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Dream Gets Slapped Down While Another Dream Sprouts New Hope

Well, I heard back from the agent. Turns out my original query was sent blank. Oh, the wonders and joys of electronic submission. How I managed to do that, I don't know. Guess I'm just brilliant. Anyway, once I discovered my error I resent my query. It took less than a day to be rejected. Another joy of technology. One need not wait on pins and needles wondering what one's fate is. There is instant de-gratification.

So now I must seek out a new agent to contact. Or is it harass? Either way, it isn't a task I enjoy. Nor am I very good at it.

On a positive note, I was granted inspiration the other day and I wrote the first episode in what I hope will become a long series of short stories. It's a series of vignettes for two young children, a girl and a boy, who become friends and grow up together. The stories are meant to be "feel good" kind of stories, emphasizing (as my first Reader put it) companionship and friendship, as opposed to any specific social theme. No doubt social themes will pop up, but not as a predetermined point of the stories. I just want to emphasize how friends really do remain friends, through thick and thin. Everything else is just background. If the stories work out well, they may qualify to be put together in a book. We'll see.

What surprises me is the lack of despair I feel over being rejected. Again. I guess I really am getting used to it. I will search for a new agent. And when I have found one I will submit a query to them, hoping beyond hope they will ignore my word count and just ask to read the manuscript. But I confess my excitement and hope wanes exponentially with each rejection. Submitting becomes just another burden which must be performed. No hope of change. Just do it. Because.

I know what's going to happen. I will die. At that point there will be no more inspirations for new series, heroes, stories, or epic tales. Then, Son will put all of my things together and sell them in a big package and make a zillion dollars. And I will never know.

Yeah. Right. That's even less likely than me getting an agent right now.

Oh, well. Back to the search engine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sometimes I'm a Woman - Sometimes I'm Not

How's this for a series of links? Got give credit where credit it due, right?

Fairyhedgehog recently had a Post on her blog about a male Author who had work rejected because the editor believed he was a female writing with a male main character. Here's the Link to his blog. In the comments to his post someone provided a link to Gender Genie, a website which analyzes writing to determine if the creator is male or female.

Out of curiosity, I submitted two of my Hero episodes. The first was Twice the Fun, the first episode in a new Hero series. the second was On Trial For Treason, the fifth episode in an existing Hero series.

Now both of these works were written by me. But they didn't score the same.

In a close score of 693 to 725 Gender Genie correctly identified me as male for Twice the Fun.

However, by a score of 986 to 459 Gender Genie says I am female for On Trial For Treason.

What I find interesting about this is that I consciously put myself into different "frames of mind" while writing each of these pieces. There is a perspective I wish to have when I write stories, and so, like the method actor, I "become" someone in order to achieve greatest effect. In my Panthera series, the On Trial For Treason episodes, my goal is to be female. The result? Well, if Gender Genie is worth the bits and bytes used to make it up, I have succeeded. Pat on my back.

For Twice the Fun, I chose a different mode. My Main Character was actually twins. Both women, but one a bit more femine than the other. So my challenge was to "feel entirely femine" while writing the one, and more masculine for the other. It was the the other who got the greater exposure (no, not that kind of exposure). The result? A close score in which male out points female by just 32-points.

These kind of things are generally arbitrary and silly, and to be honest, I haven't a clue if it's realistic to ever claim the ability to determine an author's/writer's gender simply by the words they use. My belief is that most authors/writers are like me (at least a little). How they write is completely dependent on what they write. Any of us who have been around long enough to get a feel for both sexes (no, not that kind of feeling - although that has merit, too) begins to get a sense of how to write from either sex's perspective. It only makes sense. And editors, agents, readers, or whoever, who believe otherwise, just aren't using their brains.

I had a friend who used to like to travel to San Francisco, where he claimed there were a great number of female impersonators. He said many were indistinguishable from real women (while they were dressed anyway). In fact, he said some were more feminine and female than the real women. (This was proven on some daytime show where the audience was to guess which contestants were women and which were male. Some men were able to fool everybody.) If this can be done in a face-to-face scenario, how much more so can it be done with only the written word, for which the reader must fill in missing pieces?

So, if you happen to be a woman who doesn't believe men can write a woman's perspective, or a man who doesn't believe a woman can write a man's, my question to you is this:

What's your problem?

But go ahead and believe what you want. Just don't take it so far as to affect someone else's abilty to earn a living. That's stupid, cruel, and wrong.

I write like a woman. Sometimes. Gender Genie says so. That makes me very happy.

I'm going to have a great day now.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is Great Writing Anyway

Here's a thought some might find offensive, or at least controversial. It is, however, what I honestly believe. I'll begin with the offending words.

The difference between great writing and good writing is simply a matter of opinion.

I say this because there are no real "rules" for being a great writer, while there are to be a "good" writer. If one cannot put together coherent sentences, or spell correctly, or use other laws of language well they fail at the good writing. And there are other "rules", which have little to do with proper sentence structure and more to do with wordiness, repetitiveness and things like that.

I have not read all of the so-called "great Authors". I've read some. For most, reading just one of their pieces was enough to teach me I never want to read another. You see, if we're truly going to be honest with each other (and ourselves), part of what helps us determine "greatness" is subject matter.

I got this dvd about Tolkien and his personal history and his writing. Apparently, there has been a great controversy since the 1950s (at least) about how well Tolkien could write. Some think he was horrible. Why? Well, the reasons they give tend to follow along the lines of making fun of the genre. Apparently, these classical minds cannot accept any writing about elves, dragons, dwarfs and such as being "good", much less "great". Those who do acknowledge Tolkien's "greatness" stress the believability of Middle Earth, and how Tolkien was able to maintain reader interest through a very long story.

To be honest, I don't know if Tolkien's writing was great or not. Don't really give a d*mn. Which brings me to my real point about "greatness". It doesn't mean anything. Not when there is criteria which has to be met in order to achieve it.

A real "great" story is any story a reader enjoys so much he/she reads it again. And again. And again. And not everybody has to like.

"Greatness" is a personal thing. I've tried reading Stephen King. I think he s*cks. Not because of the way he tells a story, or the way he puts sentences together. I don't like his stories. What do I care if he writes great? He doesn't write for me.

A few months ago I read "The Higher Power of Being Lucky" so I could join in a book chat on Evil Editor's blog. The book won the "whatever" award for best children's book. (Sorry, I'm not into awards either. AFTER NOTE: I think it was Newbury, or something like that.) I read it not thinking I would care for it much at all. But I was wrong. I really liked it. And if I hadn't packed it away with the rest of my library I would read it again. The general concensus, however, in the chat seemed to be unfavorable. For most of those who read and critiqued it (on the blog) it was far from great. For me, however, it fulfilled my definition of greatness. I enjoyed it. I read it more than once. I will read it again (once I've unpacked my library).

I think we get too hung up on being "great", and being "the best". It's stressful for us because, in our heart of hearts, I think we all know there's no such thing as the "best writer", any more than there is a "best singer", "best comic", "best painter", or whatever. If we examine history, we find that before the twentieth century there was no such thing as "the best artist" in any craft. What there was were apprentices, novices, experts, and masters. Once one reached the level of master there was no comparison anymore.

I'm against having a "bestsellers" list - from an artists' perspective. I realize the general public and those interested in making a lot of money need it. But the list is a lie, because it implies a lie. Too many people think the books on the list are somehow better than those which failed to make it. I believe it's more based on marketing than quality.

There are only a few bestseller books I have enjoyed. Generally, I don't like reading the same kinds of things "most people" read. There are exceptions. But I often find some of my best reading from the Bargain Bin at Barnes and Nobles, or Borders. Or at some book fair or garage sale.

Most of the books I have purchased through the years I have enjoyed. Many I have read multiple times. Tolkien's, "Lord of the Rings," I have read around 200 times. Willey's, "The Well-Favored Man," I've read a couple dozen. People argue about Tolkien, but nobody talks about Willey. Yet for me, they are both "great books".

I should write so well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Network of Roots

Well, I'm completing Year 65 of military history today. Might get a year or two more in. It's still a slow process, despite the improvements I have made in procedure. The improvements make it easier to correct mistakes, which I just found another for Year 64 and 63. Will have the corrections made in ten minutes with complete assurance no further errors remain for those years.

Have not returned to Prophecies of Madatar to edit the word count down. My Swords of Fire time is being taken up with the military history.

Have managed to write a couple other things, though. My Panthera story on the Legion Of On-Line Super Heroes blog is tooling along. And I've started another hero story, which will post tomorrow. Also, on Thursday, Stacy has a new edition to her Ana: Maiden Elf Warrior. All good stuff. Well worth the read.

It still strikes me as almost funny that, in order to know the real names of the warriors mentioned in Tavaar's Backstory I am working 352-years of military history. Does it really matter who was there? Was it Nayvahl who became Tavaar's second in command? Or was it someone else? And regarding the inquiry, was Sampka really a General? And Seratahn and Muflin Commanders? I suppose not really. But it's just that if I've got those names wrong, then what else is wrong? Maybe the story doesn't make sense after all.

I realize that, for the most part, today's audience doesn't give a d*mn about continuity. They don't care that characters traverse great distances in short amounts of time. They don't care about background history. Whenever a name is needed, just pull one out and use it. And should a writer wish to invest the time in such matters they are told to "knock it off" and just get on with the story. What they don't understand is - that is the story.

Trees and shrubs are only able to stand in proportion to their root systems, and how firmly they are entrenched in the ground. If either the ground or the roots is unstable the plant is likley to topple. We don't see the roots. (Unless we've got a silver maple growing in the yard.) the roots don't matter to us. We walk the ground above them and don't care.

So, too, with a story. An epic one anyway. The bigger the story the more extensive the root system required. Sometimes, what's below the surface exceeds what can be seen. It's important. It gives the the story its strength: credibility.

And so the work goes on. The story above ground is extensive. I hope and pray that one day the world will get to read it. Meanwhile, the roots continue to develop.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Belong to the Past

I am quickly becoming ancient. Just went to to set some music going and was confronted with a screen requesting my cell phone number. Fortunately, I was allowed to bypass and go directly to my account.

What's the problem with giving out my cell phone number?

I don't have one.

Never have been a phone person. When I was young and was told to answer the telephone, or was the only one home and happened to be next to it when it rang, people calling would groan inside and curse their luck for getting me. I didn't do well on the phone.

Got better as I got older, but it was work. Did some of they key things, such as smile when talking, and desperately try to pay attention. The problem is, not being able to see the other person I am easily distracted by other things. Besides, there's something about telephones which bug me. They're great for dialing 911 and such, but when I was younger (and actually had people who didn't mind my presence) I would just hop in the car and drive to a house to see if whoever was home. Sometimes they weren't. Stephen's mother would always say to me, "Why didn't you call first?" It was easier to come over.

So much of modern technology gets on my nerves, despite the benefits. I don't have cable, dish, or anything else like that. And with the conversion to high definition I lost several stations. They don't come in despite me having the exact antennae demonstrated as the one to get. Do get an extra PBS station, and that's good. The new station shows lots of historical shows about the midwest and central Canada. Very interesting stuff.

I struggle with the internet, although I'm doing better. But my interest isn't sufficient for me to experiment and explore too much. For one thing, I've stumbled onto a couple of websites which attacked my computers viciously. I lost the nice computer I had when the mother board burned out. Losing that computer cost me dearly.

So I don't have a cell phone. Don't have a bank card. Do have a credit card. Don't have an Ipod. Just read that the U.S. is requiring everyone who enters to have a scannable passport. Some guy in California did an experiment with some inexpensive equipment he purchased. He went out in his car and, just driving around, was able to scan six passports inside twenty minutes. Got every iota of information on the cards. I'm not likely to be getting a passport either.

Not that I can afford to fly, but Canada is within driving distance. Ontario is a beautiful place. At least away from the cities. Thought it might be nice to take Son up some day to show him. Probably won't happen now.

I have been told by more than one person that the kind of stories I like best are not written anymore. People want different stuff. Certainly they want it told differently.

Perhaps. But I can't help what I like. And I can't help it if it belongs to the past. So do I, I guess. We have a lot of great things today because of advances in technology. However, we gave up a lot to get them. Some good things of the past are mutually exclusive with good things of the present. It's always been that way, I guess. I suppose being old is when one reaches the place where they recognize the absence of good things which are gone and not to return.

Don't know. I'll just continue to write what I like. Who knows? Perhaps one day it will be viewed as a refreshing look to the past.

Today's music:

Dave Mason: Only You Know and I Know

Seal: Kiss From a Rose

Allman Brothers Band: Jessica

Joan Baez: Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Lloyd Price: Stagger Lee

Bellamy Brothers: Let Your Love Flow

Friday, July 17, 2009

What if I Find My Place in the World - And It's in a Corner Off the Beaten Track

Today is Other Works of Fanatasy Day. The idea being I am writing other things besides Swords of Fire. The truth is, the biggest fantasy I have is that I actually have a life worth living. I'm pretty useless, actually. What I contribute nobody seems to want. What people want are things I have no desire to contribute.

I should have been born when it didn't cost so much to do things. That way it wouldn't be so cost prohibitive for me to do the things I want to do. Our public television station often runs shows depicting people who have made big successes of their lives starting from "nothing". I guess "nothing" requires some kind of definition, because after watching a host of these programs my response is these people hardly had "nothing". They all had tens of thousands of dollars at their disposal, which led others with hundreds of thousands of dollars to loan them more in order for them to get going. I've got tens of dollars.

Now I grant you that $50,000 is not a lot of money when it comes to starting up a business. Just to open the little bookstore Spouse and I like to dream about would run about $150,000. That's what we're estimating anyway.

Starting a business is not easy. Or cheap. One must have property and/or cash to get going, and if the business fails, one loses said property and/or cash. And some businesses are subject to greater risks than others. Restaurants are notorious for not making it past the first year. The rule used to be that a restaurant had to last at least five years in order to truly establish itself.

Retail isn't much better. In this small town of less than 5,000 people we have seen dozens of businesses come and go in just a few short years. They're like bubbles in a pond. They pop up - and then they pop out.

Sometimes it's a question of location. Others it's just that there isn't enough of a market for the business. With forty-seven shoe stores in the mall, do we really need another? There's a McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, and Culver's in town, and you want to open a burger palace?

It can be that way with writing, too. We who write with passion generally write good stories. But if there's nothing to distinguish our story from the host of others which beat us to market, why should anyone take it? But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I lived in a town where an upstart burger place put McDonalds out of business. (Not across the nation. Just in that town.) Their burgers were better (not that hard to achieve), and they provided a service and atmosphere McDonalds couldn't/didn't. There were no cheap plastic toys for the kids, but everyone enjoyed being there.

There is great value in writing something to fit what's missing. You are filling an obvious need. Some writers (Authors) are very good at doing that. They examine what's available to read and recognize something is missing. So they write that. In a way I envy these Authors. Not just because they get published and I don't (although that certainly comes into play), but because they somehow seem to be able to control what they are interested in.

I'm interested in what I'm interested in, and although it changes from time to time, it doesn't change that drastically as a rule. I've always loved fantasy. And history. And nature.

I look at what's available to read and see lots of holes. But in my mind, that's good. The missing subjects are quite B-O-R-I-N-G. And even when someone else writes about it, and I sometimes endeavor to read what they have written, my opinion of the topic does not change. Of course, they just got paid for being dull. I do it for free.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When Technology Make a Story Obsolete

Haven't been writing much new stuff lately. The military history project is taking up a lot of time. That's okay. It just is taking up a lot of time.

I need to be three people. Then I might have enough time in a day to accomplish things.

About twenty-five years ago I came up with an idea for a story. Actually started it, but got side-tracked and it went into the Archives. The idea was that there were three friends who, for whatever reason, had become separated by distance, so they continued the friendship via correspondence. The story would be an archive of the letters which passed from one to another.

One friend would be in the midst of financial difficulties while another was suffering relationship problems. The third would just be a guy still trying to find his way. Stories like that can work, but they're difficult to pull off, so I'm not sure it would have amounted to anything anyway. And with today's technology it would have to be rethought. Using email, there have been days I have "talked" with my best friend several times in a day. The idea of having to wait a week between letters is archaic now.

Meanwhile, I'm up to Year 33 of my military history. It's coming along. Slowly.

Oh, and I haven't heard back from the printer regarding a quote on printing a Legion Of On-Line Super Heroes book.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Rambling Again

I often played alone when I was young. Usually, this was because there wasn't anyone around to play with. But sometimes it was because I wasn't keen on doing what others were doing.

During my month of staying up at my grandmother's house there were no other kids to play with, so I learned to amuse myself with imaginative games. Played football and baseball by myself, and a lot of war games. A deck of cards could become an army of reds and blacks. And my aunt's boxes of postcards were fantastic.

Sometimes I've wondered if all of this time alone helped, or hurt, my creative abilities. I guess I would assume they helped. It wasn't like I was that bored. That imaginative play I did when I was young now expresses itself in stories. Some are quite - weird. A few are almost normal.

For some people writing is a chore. If they weren't being paid to do it they wouldn't. I'm in the opposite camp. No one is paying me to write, and yet I do. It's play time for me. But then I'm still writing only what I want to write.

I don't know the ins and outs of script writing, but all of my stories play out like movies in my mind. What's cool about them is how I can take any portion of the story and "drill into" it, learning more and more and more about background things. I like knowing more and more about a story. It makes it more real. If it's well thought out.

For people who never exercised their imaginations, I wonder what it's like to live a dull life. Not too much. I prefer the life of creativity. Even if it isn't generating any income today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Book Idea

Been looking into self-publishing my Hero stories from Legion of On-Line Super Heroes. Not sure I can afford it, even at a small run of 500 books, but I've submitted some specs to a printer and am waiting on a quote. They will even print the cover and bind the book. We'll see what they require.

Meanwhile, that's what I have been writing of late: Hero stories. Beacon Girl has come up with a new hero. Little Darla: The Girl of Shadows. Her first episode is up now. My latest Panthera episode posted on Saturday.

To read it in sequence you will need the following links:
Or, just go to Legion Headquarters and find it under Home>Stories From Bevie>Panthera and Leo>On Trial For Treason. (Here is the link.) From the headquarters link you can also read other stories from other Legion Authors. You can also find them on the blog itself.

Hero episodes have been rather scarce of late. People have become busy, and and Hero stories are a natural casualty of that. I have found it hard to keep up myself, and I'm Blog Administrator.

So how can I publish a book? Well, I'm thinking that becomes an incentive to produce more episodes. Right now I have five Hidden Embers episodes and six Panthera. That's roughly 22-pages of work. Ideally, I would like to have closer to 100-pages. About forty more episodes. It'll take a while, but I think I can manage it. Got enough Heroes to write about.

So, that's my current inspiration. That, and my work on Swords of Fire military History. That's coming along, too. Completed about 23 years.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All's the Same in Love and War

Thought I would continue a bit on what I posted about yesterday: sex.

Typically, and historically, I have not written much about sex, at least not directly. For years I convinced myself it was because I was taking a moral high ground, but in time I was forced to admit that wasn't true. I'm just not that morally "high". The reason I have not written many sex scenes is the same reason I've been involved in so little of it in real life: fear and ignorance.

Writing about sex is embarrassing for me. And yet my most powerful writing comes from sexual energy. How does a battle scene derive from sexual energy, you ask? Well, I don't know if I can explain it well, or at all, but I believe that is exactly where the energy comes from. It is just redirected.

Writing a battle scene is kind of like choreographing a dance. Combatants must flow with - and against - each other. There are moves and counter moves. Actions by one stimulate reactions by the other. The climax of a love scene is ecstasy. The climax of a battle scene is death. And while the end (of a happy scene) is satisfying, it is the building up to it that is key. Without the build up, the ending is just that: an ending.

Generally, I have been well complimented on my battle scenes over the years. I have also done a reasonable job with emotional pain, especially as it relates to despair. What I have avoided for years, though, is even the attempt at writing a satisfying love scene.

The problem is the fear of being silly. For one thing, in order to write a convincing love scene I must be convinced of it myself. This means writing things which are a "turn on" for me, possibly. Not always. Depends on the scene. But even the thought that others will laugh at what I find romantic is intimidating. And so I have not done it.

That began to change with one of my later revisions of Swords of Fire: Book I. The story, while interesting enough, lacked real energy. It was difficult to truly care about the characters. In time I had to confess that it was because I was denying the characters their sexuality. While some were highly conservative (even prudish), it just wasn't realistic for all of them to be so. No society is perfect, and neither is any character. I had to accept the fact that my main character was entering the peak of his sexual youth. There was simply no way he could walk through life ignoring that. It was going to affect him. And so I began to write love scenes.

These scenes were written in a paper journal instead of in the computer. There's something more private about writing with a pen than with a keyboard. Don't know what it is, but it is how I feel about writing. So, like I often do when seeking a release for words, I just 'wrote what came to me'.

Reading it afterward made me blush. I even looked around to see if perhaps someone might be reading over my shoulder. I hadn't believed myself capable of writing something like that. And while the scenes all made it into Traitor, none did so with the same - how shall I say it - detailed description. The journals are all boxed away and sealed right now, but if memory serves me right, I wrote three or four pages for the once scene. It takes up a paragraph in Traitor.

What I found, for myself anyway, is that avoiding silly comparisons is key to writing a successful love scene. It's the comparisons which make people roll their eyes, or laugh at the imagery. Writing intent and reaction is far more important than other things. Like a battle. There is dominance, and at times it shifts from one to the other and back again. There is give and there is take. There are respites. But in everything, the action must flow like a river, with both the calmness of deep water, the suddenness of rapids, and perhaps the plunge of a waterfall. (Talk about silly imagery, right?)

Perhaps I am silly for having taken the approach I have. But I do tend to write my battles like love scenes and my lovemaking like battles. They're kind of akin. Only, in a battle there is a winner and a loser. In a love scene - just winners. Hopefully. If it's done right.

I'm still not a great writer of love scenes. But I like them now. The truth is, it has nothing to do with morality. It's passion. That's all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How Do You Tell a Good Story

It's Music Saturday, and in honor of the occasion I have changed my music playlist at the top of this blog. It's a short list of fourteen songs by female artists - mostly Carly Simon. Some of my favorite songs are not available at But as the service is free I'm not in much of a position to complain.

I love music, and I envy those who can produce it. My personal efforts in the matter have been sporadic at best, and non-existent at worst. Having a voice like beef jerky (no middle ground: either you love it or you hate it) I have received more than a few weighty criticisms over the years. Been made fun of for my efforts in piano, harp, guitar and bass, too. Also, not being able to produce the sounds which touch my very heart is frustrating. So I don't practice my instruments. Do sing, though. I can still express myself to tears. My singing has the same effect on others, too, only I have my doubts it's as emotionally moving for them as for me.

A number of years ago I watched a 60 Minutes piece about music. A famous woman of broadway (and I apologize for not remembering her name, but class and I have never been exactly on a hand-shaking basis) was at Julliard talking to students. They were all thrilled because they understood the potential to "get discovered". The woman had some of the students get up and sing. I only remember the one guy. He got up, nervous, but clearly determined to give his best. And he had a nice voice. But his song was about as moving as constipation. Nothing. I remember thinking to myself, why don't they ever teach people how to interpret a song. Anyone with a voice can sing, but few people seem to know how to "tell a song". Look at some of the more famous artists in history. Not always great voices. In fact, some had/have voices which makes one wonder how they became successful. I know how. They can "tell a song".

The famous woman (FW) interrupted the guy before he had sung more than two minutes. She told him he had an excellent voice. Then she asked him a question.

What is the song about?

The guy began giving all kinds of background. Once again FW interrupted him.

No. You're wrong. That's not what the song is about.

Guy was a bit put off, but daren't contradict the professional. FW was no fool, though, and she continued.

Do you want to know what the song is about?

He did. (He wasn't a complete fool either.)


Everyone laughed. FW got angry with the class and turned on them.

I'm serious! And if you are going to make it in this industry you'd better be, too. ALL great songs are about sex. You do not sing them with your voices, or even your hearts. You sing them with your loins. Focus on that and you will sing better than your voices. It isn't the voice which makes you great, although that helps. It's knowing what you're singing about.

That's all I remember about the piece, but it has stuck with me for years. Every so often I think about it. I think FW was right. The songs which touch me deepest, which make cry, or feel cuddly, or whatever, they all speak somehow to sex. How odd. Or is it?

We are sexual beings. It's a large part of our make up. For some it's larger than for others. [smiles] But that's the breaks. Right?

Writing is kind of like that, too. Well, mine is. My writing can all be boiled down to relationships, and sex is part of any relationship - even non-gay friendships. This is true whether we like it or not. Or maybe I'm just talking about myself. Sex is the tension used to keep interst longer than any other kind. And I don't mean it always (or ever) has to result in intercourse. Realistically, it seldom does. But it's the awareness of sex which creates the tension. And it's that tension which keeps interest high. How far is this going to go? This is why when characters consumate their relationships it is generally done at the end of the story. Once the question of "will they or won't they" is answered, interest wanes. But it can't be strung out endlessly, either.

I think that's what makes my second book in Swords of Fire so much more exciting and fun that the first. Prophecies of Madatar is filled with sexual tension from beginning to end.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to Carly Simon, Dido, and the others. Some of the songs remind me of heartbreaks and failures in my past. That's a different kind of sexual tension. It can also inspire great stories. Swords of Fire uses that, too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where Does the Time Go Anyway

I've never been keen on reading science fiction, but I sometimes like to watch it. Was (am) a huge Star Trek fan. Not crazy, though. Never dressed up in costume. But I can give the Vulcan hand greeting with either hand without hardly thinking about it. Actually, the only real reason I didn't dress up in costume was because I couldn't afford it.

Really liked the original Star Wars. And liked each succeeding episode less than the one which preceded it.

One often theme of science fiction shows is the time thing. There's always some kind of device used to stop time for everyone other than the person with the device. Sometimes this simply involves speeding up time for one and not others. Other times time is actually stopped. It's age old and overdone, but you know what? I could really use one of those devices.

The things I want to write now are all taking up lots of time, and my days are ending before I can move from one to another. So many things are not getting done, or getting done in shoddy fashion.

Got a short episode to write before tomorrow. Only 500-words. Don't know when I'm going to get to it. Don't know how much time I'm going to need. Sometimes I can pump out 500-words in five minutes. Other times I need an hour just to write. Then, because the Muses weren't helping, I need another two hours to edit.

I have watches, but I don't think they stop time. Don't even know where they are. Haven't wore a watch since it became impossible to find those gaudy 3" leather watch bands from the 60s. I live in the past, you know.

Regarding the title of this post, wouldn't it be cool if Time really did go some place? Then, all one need do was find the place and get some of it to come back. Cool? Perhaps.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Restarted With a Boost

Well, thanks to modern technology I have completed the first phase of my military history in quick order. And it only took three starts! That's not bad as world building pieces go.

I have determined who was in the military for all 352 years of the family's history. I have grouped them according to villages, and further grouped villages into eight companies. What remains now is to determine rank and promotions.

Made a couple of modifications regarding who can, and can not, be in the military. Warriors are ranked according to skill. There are nine rankings. Those in the highest three are required to return to military service early. Those in the bottom three are often excused completely, but generally the goal is for everyone to serve one or two years before returning to their assigned trade.

That's right: you read assigned trade. If your mother belongs to CROPS and your father belongs to CROPS then you belong to CROPS, and nothing is going to change that. No matter that you have artistic talent. No matter that you like to work with animals. No matter that you are gifted in healing. You are a farmer. Unless you have superior warrior skills. Then you get to spend your life in the military. Whether you want to or not. It isn't a perfect society. Just ask the Unaligned.

But things are on a roll now and moving well. Getting this completed will make me feel much better. Like last fall when I completed the assigning of every person to a specific house for every year of their life. That took a couple of months. Maybe four. Can't remember now. Or when I completed the extended family trees. That was fun. That was at least four months, and possible six or eight. I generated over one million lines of data.

Fortunately, this project will not be nearly so ambitious. I might even finish it this month.

We'll see.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ah, When Things Go Wrong

I just love it. Wrote an update query and did a mass update of thousands of records only to learn afterward that I had written the query wrong. Failed to take something into consideration. The result? The database is filled with conflicting information and I am probably going to have to redo the past two days' work. Oh, well. I've done it before.

That's the problem with shortcuts. Sometimes they go wrong. And often (when one is overconfident and refuses to take the time to make a backup) there is no way to get back to the original problem. That is not quite true in this case. I am able to go all the way back to the start and begin again. Pity. I wasn't that far from finishing this phase.

The good news, of course, is that this is the easy part. I'm now beginning again for the third time. Hopefully, my enthusiasm won't dwindle beyond recovery.

It's not a big problem. When something is important to me I will start over as many times as it takes. This is important to me. I rewrote Swords of Fire: Book I so many times I no longer know the count. The task does not daunt me.

Do you have stories like that? Stories that so need to be told - by you - that you dutifully return to the beginning to start anew when things go wrong? That's the thing about telling a story. Even simple stories have things go wrong. And Swords of Fire is hardly simple.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Picking Who's In and Who's Out

Hello. Thought I would provide a bit of a status report on my work with Swords of Fire military history. Sorry for the dry topic, but you were warned: I find this absolutely fascinating.

My original efforts were not producing as I liked, so I gave them up. Those were in Excel, copying my database records there and then sorting them. Not a complete waste of time. Now I know how NOT to do things. But sometimes the best way to get ahead is to go back and start over. No point in walking a road from which "you can't get there from here".

My current approach is to remain in the database. First, I set everyone's military status for every year of their life to TRUE. Then I changed it to FALSE for years in which their age was less than 26 and more than 100. Then I changed it to FALSE for years in which they had a child, and for five years following. Then I changed it to FALSE for years in which a character was married to someone under the age of 26.

The family, although a warrior family, is still family orientated, I hope you note. No one under the age of 26 is allowed to officially join military forces. What they are is part of the Village Defense Forces, which is the last resistance should the family be overrun by war. Young marrieds are granted their time together, and if they begin a family right off they do not serve. For those family members who are not exceptional with their fighting skills, it is not unheard of that they never officially serve.

Young children get both their parents until age five. Then they get one (generally, the lesser warrior) until sixteen. After sixteen, they only lose their parents to the military if their parent/s is/are exceptional warrior/s. Or, if they belong to DEFENSE.

The family's Main Attack Force ranges in age from 31-70. Don't get shook about 70-year-old warriors. The family lives within the boundaries of healing waters, which delays age and promotes health. The average age at death for family members is well above 100. A 70-year-old family member would probably equate to a forty-year-old or fifty-year-old in ours. And a healthy one at that.

The Reserve Force consists of 71-100-year-olds. They have the experience, and most still have the strength of younger warriors.

The next two groups tend to work together. They are the very old and the very young. Warriors past 100 years and warriors 30-years of age and younger. These make up the village defenses. The thinking is that the old are weaker and have earned their respite, and the younger represent the family's future. These groups need to be protected at all costs.

Right now I am working on determining which parent remains with the child/ren during the youngest's years of 6-15. In most cases both parents will be home. But not always. There are 23,407 records to navigate - one at a time. I am currently on record 4,775. Tried a couple of ways to do this, but am reasonably happy with my current method.

I ran a query for mothers, with their husband's records alongside. I see their line, their age, and their sword skill. When one parent belongs to DEFENSE and the other doesn't, the choice is immediate: the parent belonging to DEFENSE returns to the military. When both belong to DEFENSE the stronger warrior returns. When neither do, I look at sword skill. More than half the family will top out at level four or weaker. Unless one belongs to DEFENSE, one does not continue in the military at those strengths. Only levels five and higher continue. So that's what I'm doing now. Once I've completed the 23,407 records I will have determined who is in the military when. At that point I will copy the records to Excel and begin grouping them according to their villages in order to set up companies and commands. From there I will use age and sword strength to determine promotions.

I suppose I could finish in July. Not really counting on it, but it could happen.

Don't you just love detailed work?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

World Building: The Details

Over on Tales From The Great Sea I started something I thought to be cool: dedicate posts to a single character from the Swords of Fire Database. With over 6,000 characters I could write a post every day for nearly twenty years.

It was a good idea, but on just my second randomly generated character I discovered I am going to need some of the unfinished work I have. So, as I indicated there, I am returning to my extremely detailed work in determining military structure for 6,000+ people over 3-1/2 centuries.

Also hope to get some job assignments completed.

The database contains 48 tables of information. The one table, tblYearlyArchive, contains a record for every character in the database for every year of their life. There are 541,348 records. Let me tell you that was fun to generate.

That is the key table for what I'm working on now: Military Assignments Through History. Most of the records don't matter as they refer to years when characters were too young, or too old. But I'm still left with a considerable number to weed through. For instance, I have completed four of the thirteen groups: Arts, Crops, Healers, and Defense.

Arts: .. 22,328 records
Crops: . 45,658 records
Healers: 23,643 records
Defense: 58,279 records

These records need to grouped into groups. I need to know where all military aged characters were in any given year. So the groups will be by village (29 villages) and year. That's the easy part. I should be able to complete that within a week or so. From then on it gets complicated. I have to monitor each character to know when they had children. You see, the family has a formal law in place: No parent can serve in the military if they have children age five or younger. Further, at least one parent must remain home with children until they reach the age of sixteen. This creates a significant complication in that children are being born every year and ALL Defense members are part of the military all their lives. I have to separate their active service from their home duty, and know when they can return to active service, which most of the best warriors (and all of the Defense warriors) will do.

It's incredibly fascinating, actually. Doing this seems to make the Swords of Fire history so very real. I can go to any year right now and tell you who was born, who died, who got married, where everyone lived - to the house. I'm now in the process of adding military history to this instant knowledge. And jobs.

Incredibly fascinating.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Learning Discipline

Posted the next installment of my Panthera story, On Trial For Treason. Do you know what would be cool? To some day take all of the Hero series from Legion of On-Line Super Heroes and compile them into a book. The Authors (of which there are currently eight) could spit the proceeds. We'd all get rich, I'm sure. I mean, who wouldn't want to buy it, right?

What we need is a some kind of graphic artist who would draw/paint/color more images for our Heroes. Oh, well. Another dream seed left to rot unattended in the ground.

It's hard writing a serial. If you haven't tried it, I suggest giving it a go - just for the learning experience. There is a completely different kind of pressure to produce. I suppose it's kind of like these writer support groups which demand a certain number of words each day or week. It's an excellent tool for many writers to sit down and produce something. Has the opposite effect on me. It doesn't take long before I want to refuse to write just because it's expected of me. I expect that's my undisciplined nature taking over. Rebellion. You know?

But the pressure to write a series of stories is different than the pressure to complete a long novel, or short story. I think it's good for discipline, though, if one adheres to a word count.

Used to resent word counts. As indicated in some earlier post/s. Whenever I was given writing assignments I would blow past the required number of pages/words. Don't recall ever being marked down for it. In fact, I think it was one of the reasons for my better grades. But perhaps my writing instructors were doing me a disfavor. By rewarding me for my wordy efforts they failed to teach me a fundamental need in writing: conciseness.

Maybe it wasn't so important in the past as it is now. Printing costs, although always high, were not comparable to what they are now. I am sure more than one editor has turned down a story simply because it was going to cost too much to produce it.

So writing to a word count teaches discipline. Paring things down is hard. It takes more work than writing the story in the first place. That's what I'm confronted with with Prophecies of Madatar. It's too long. Too long for even a second book. So I must remove words. Lots of words. And I have to still tell the story correctly. I was able to drop 11,000 words just by dumping "suddenlys", "thats", "ands", and a host of short pet phrases I discovered I like to use. Getting rid of those things did not hurt the story whatsoever. In fact, the story was improved.

That's what writing a serial with a word count regulation can do for a writer. When I finished the episode I just posted it was too long. Had to pare it down. I did, and now the readers are unaware of certain character reactions. Perhaps they will fill those in themselves. That's part of writing a good story, too. Knowing what/when to leave up to the Reader's imagination. Storytelling is a duely creative process. Not only does the storyteller create, but so do the Readers - when they are engaged.

That's the real challenge for a writer. Getting the Reader to believe and care about the Story.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rambling About Writing

Other works of fantasy. Right now, that's what I feel like.

Don't have anything particular going on right now. Feeling a bit drained. Going to wait a day or two before beginning the next pass against Prophecies of Madatar. It's a good story - a great story - but 600-pages seems a bit much. Going to have to pick some things to chop out. Won't be easy.

If I can have a successful edit this go around (and by successful mean chop 30,000-words+ and still have a story) I shall return to Book III, which is currently under the title, "Bonds of Love". Bonds of Love will answer many questions raised in Traitor, and Prophecies of Madatar. Most of the questions aren't critical, but they're there. Book III is also my first serious attempt at following three characters in three different places simultaneously. It's something which has been done many times by many authors and writers. Done well, it works great. Done poorly it doesn't work at all. The idea, of course, is that these three separate cords are all coming together to a form a single rope.

I think was doing all right. For one thing, I'm a stickler about timing. A pet peeve of mine is when a character leaves to go someplace and arrives days before it is possible. The Star Wars Saga was horrible about this. Obiwan wanted to send a message to the Jedi Council, but it was too far. So he contacts Anikan instead. Then, within hours (minutes) of Anikan's arrival, the Jedi show up. I hate that.

I've spent days researching transportation modes to get realistic expectations of how long it takes to walk from here to there, ride a horse from here to there, ride a wagon from here to there, or fly from here to there. Then, having determined how long it takes to travel, I look at when I need the character/s to be wherever. After that I backschedule. If I can't reconcile the time, then what I want to write just cannot happen. It doesn't fit with the reality of the story. This adherence to time detail has meant extra days/weeks of writing. It also means sometimes I just cannot get characters to where they are needed. This means other characters are going to have to find a way to make do without them. Anything else is just lazy writing.

Well, I have to close. Son just chipped his last reed and we are off to Schmidt Music to buy a box of them. Catch you later.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What to Do When Inspiration is Low

The Creativity Thermometer is reading low today. It happens. Into every storm a little calm must fall. Or something like that.

Did come up with a new idea, though. Not for this blog. This blog will still remain my Stories Blog. But Tales From The Great Sea is supposed to be mainly about my Swords of Fire Saga and especially the background information. Recently, I've been posting story-poems. I really enjoy those, both writing and reading.

Oh, and speaking of reading (segue from my original thought - we may never see it again), I finished my latest edit of Swords of Fire: Prophecies of Madatar. What a great read! I even teared up at the end. My previous edit ended over a year ago, so it's been a long time since I've read it. I really liked it and, as Fairyhedgehog told me, "It's good to enjoy your own book." Yeah. It is. I actually enjoyed it more than Traitor. Only managed to drop 11,000+ words. The current version is 168,000+ words. Time for another pass.

So, whatever was I talking about? Oh, yes. A new idea for Tales From The Great Sea.

I created a Swords of Fire Database which I call The Archive. (This is not to be confused with The Archives, a collection of all my writing dating back to the early 1970s.) Contained in this database are a host of records on 6,770 characters. These records include birth records; death records; marriage records; village populations; time lines; personal achievements; and a bunch of other stuff - for ALL 6,770 characters. Well, most. Some of the characters aren't actually family. Six records represent the Children of Fire and one represents Madatar. (Odd, but I failed to create a record for Ardora, Madatar's mate.)

Anyway, the backstory and records for all of these characters is hardly complete. LOTS of things I still want to get done, but just haven't had the time because of my new infatuation with blogging. It takes up a LOT of my time. Well, it occured to me that I could combine my old love of detailing the lives of my characters with my new love of blogging. Way back in the beginning I wrote a random number generator (RNG) for The Archive. By using the RNG I can take whichever character's name record corresponds with the number and write a short blub about them, using the existing records, and possibly even expanding them to fill in missing pieces.

So that's what I think I will do. May not post every day. Still sounds like a lot of work. But I'll be divying it up over time instead enduring hours long study periods. But to do some of the work (such as assigning military duty and rank by year) is going to require me to shut myself away and just work. (Before they come and lock me away for thinking this could even be remotely interesting for anyone other than myself.)

Meanwhile, I may take some time and play mindless computer games. Mindless exercises are good for my brain. They so fit in with my daily life.

Be warned now: You may find yourself reading who was promoted to Commander and who was High Marshall in Year 160. (In Year 352 it's Shello, Khirsha's father.)


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think