Saturday, April 19, 2014

The No-Campfire Girls blog tour coming

Look for an upcoming blog tour in conjunction with the May release of The No-Campfire Girls; thanks to my Google group The Ink-Slingers League for getting the ball rolling on that. We were slowed down in setup work because Emily had a stomach bug, but she feels better and we're still shooting for publication in a few weeks.

Speak of the Devil: An Easter Weekend Day In The Life Of A Dog

Speak of the Devil: An Easter Weekend Day In The Life Of A Dog: Before getting started today, I'm co-hosting Hilary's weekly blog hop this week, so let's get to that. You can find Hilary at  ...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A New List Of Old Words


            It wouldn’t be another year if we didn’t come across lists of new words, something I discussed when the year was new. But what about old words? Now I’ve also found a list of words that at least one expert (insert air quotes here) believes should be retired. Next week, maybe I’ll find a list of annoying writing habits (such as the overuse of parenthesis).

            One that made the list is the word “huge”, not because of the word itself but because of the way it’s been used. This is maybe nit-picking, a term that was banned in 1994, but huge does not mean very important or very interesting. Sometimes it’s used both ways in the same sentence:

            “Astronomers have made the huge discovery of a huge planet way out where it shouldn’t be, in a huge orbit far from its huge sun.”

            “We’re having a huge sale on king size mattresses! They’re huge!”

            More accurate would be: “Oprah’s huge this year! No, I don’t mean her ratings; she must have gone off her diet.”

            Or, “Is Rush Limbaugh still huge? Let me wave away that cigar smoke … yep. Dude, even talk show hosts exercise.”

            Here’s another one: “The ___ cliff”. One commentator said he was happy we averted the fiscal cliff last year, but that it’s a horrible metaphor.

            I don’t know if I’d use the term “averted” … that makes it sound as if the problem went away, instead of being kicked down the road, which is another overused but descriptive term. Still, maybe he had a point. Maybe we’re headed toward a fiscal concrete wall, or perhaps more accurately, a fiscal train wreck. This will be comforting for those of you who are afraid of heights.

            Here’s one I agree with wholeheartedly: YOLO. The new generation can’t be bothered to spell things out, but for those of you over forty that means “You only live once”. Unless you’re James Bond, who only lived twice on Her Majesty’s Secret Service while sipping Thunderballs with Dr. No and Goldfinger.

            In theory, YOLO is a great concept. You only live once, so work hard for that college education! Keep a good attitude! Pursue your chosen career! Make good karmic points, just in case you’re wrong and get reincarnated!

            Unfortunately, in practice YOLO is used as an excuse for stupidity. “Dude – I’ll only live once, so I’m going to get so wasted and jump my skateboard over the shed and onto a moving pickup truck. YOLO!”

            If you only live once, shouldn’t you want to stick around for a while?

            Sequester means setting something apart, separating it. Well, it’s supposed to. Now it’s synonymous with that overused term, kicking the can down the road. Sequester, in today’s terms, signifies a group of elected officials who can’t be bothered to follow their actual job description, and so put off working on budget issues because they know they’ll probably get reelected even if they go on camera and call their constituents blind idiots. We should retire sequester and replace it with “bureaucratic dictator for life”.

            Bubble. I used to like bubbles. They floated around, reflected the light, delighted kids and dogs. Now they burst and cause economic crisis, so off with them!

            We had a tech bubble and a housing bubble and a stock-market bubble, and now apparently we have a bitcoin bubble. The longer a bubble lasts, the worse things go when it bursts. So here’s an idea for you to chew on: The federal government spending bubble has been expanding for a long, long time. Because we keep kicking it down the road.

            The New Normal. It means things have changed. Well, things always change, people. I’ve been through a half dozen new normals in my lifetime. Forty, if you count clothing styles.

            Bromance. Kirk and Spock, Han and Chewie, Starsky and Hutch, Goose and Maverick, Ernie and Bert … I could go on all day about guys who love each other like brothers, including Sam and Dean from Supernatural, who not only love each other like brothers but actually are brothers.

            It’s living proof that two guys can be incredible close without being close in that way, not that there’s anything wrong with that way. But these guys spend all their time together without getting together – except in the infamous slash fanfictions that suggest Kirk would go for a guy who only gets in the mood once every seven years.

            Then we have Man___. Man what, you say? Mancave, manplaining, mancation … manopause. I think I’m going through that last one right now.

            Mancaves often end up being in the garage … to show you how out of touch I am, my mancave has a desk, computer, and stacks upon stacks of books. It’s my literary Hoosier Heaven.

            I’m not sure, but I suspect the term was invented to give men a sense of ownership, now that they’re becoming more and more aware that they never were really in charge.

            Here’s another term some people think should go away: online waiting room.

            Apparently that’s where you’re expected to wait while spins around and decides whether to tell you how much higher your premiums and deductible are going to be. I’ve got news for you on that one:

            It’s not going away soon, even if we kick it down the road and over a cliff.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

dmyates Believe in Yourself: Farewell to Being Human US

Another of my wife's and mine favorite shows!

dmyates Believe in Yourself: Farewell to Being Human US: Sometimes, things happen that make me sad, and this is one of them. After 4 years, tonight in the final episode of Being Human, the US vers...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Noble County Relay For Life meets April 17th



            Noble County Relay For Life Captains and Teams are meeting Thursday, April 17th—just a month before the 2014 Relay.

            There’s lots to be discussed, and many tasks to be done to make for another successful event. Captains will meet at 6 p.m. and teams at 7 p.m. at the Noble County Public Library main branch, on East Main Street in Albion.

            The 2014 Relay For Life of Noble County will take place on May 17-18th at West Noble High School beginning at 10:00 a.m. that Saturday.  For more information, contact Mike White at (260) 302-2052 or

            The Noble County Relay website is here:

            And the Facebook page is here:

Thursday, April 17, 2014
         Noble County Public Library                     
 813 E. Main St. Albion, IN

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I was invited along on a blog tour ride by my writer friend Mari Collier, who was raised in Iowa and yet isn’t dull at all. Thanks for the extra work, Mari – sheesh. But anyone who writes SF, historical fiction, and humor is worth the effort. She now lives in California, yet isn’t strange at all.

Unfortunately, due to finalizing the details on The No-Campfire Girls and life in general, I haven’t had the time to get this out, and today I realized I hadn’t recruited anyone to follow it. Instead, I picked a few blogs from among writer friends and highlighted them at the end of this, but I didn’t find anyone to answer the questions themselves, and I hope some of you will take up the reins and continue this on.

1.       What Am I Working On?

A sandwich, at the moment. Oh, you mean writing? We’re finishing the setup for my second self-published effort, The No-Campfire Girls, a YA humor/adventure set in a girl’s summer camp. Why self-published? Because a portion of the proceeds from the book’s sale will go toward Camp Latonka, the Girl’s Scout camp my wife attended and then worked at.
            I’m waiting to see the cover art of The Notorious Ian Grant, which Whiskey Creek Press is publishing in October. Meanwhile, I’m plugging away at a book of my columns and Beowulf: In Harm’s Way, a SF story that pokes a little fun at the space opera genre. I have a million ideas in a dozen genres, all in varying degrees of development, and just need more time.

2.       How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

Which genre? Well, I tend to inject more humor into my works—the world needs more humor—but not in a mocking or parody way. I take my situations lightly, and my characters seriously. It’s as if Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams had a baby, and … who knows? I never pried into their personal lives.

3.       Why Do I Write What I Do?

Why not? But basically I write what I like to read, which is how it should be with all writers. I love science fiction, and I like a good romance that’s infused with humor, and I’m always up for some intelligent action, if you can picture that.

4.       How Does My Writing Process Work?

I start by thinking, which is far too lacking in today’s society. What if? What then? Routine chores are a perfect time for that: Mowing the lawn, showering, home maintenance, first aid after home maintenance … that’s where I work out the ideas in my head.
Then I do an outline; I have a whole box full of unfinished manuscripts to show I’ll never be a successful pantser. By the way, when I was a kid “pantser” meant a whole different thing. My outlines are devoid of Roman numerals, and full of side notes, parenthesis (I’m famous for my parenthesis), and the occasional exclamation point as an idea hits me. It’s just a scribbled narrative, really, and subject to change at any time—I just need a road map with a destination, and nothing keeps me from exploring a side road as long as the destination is in mind.
Beside that are detailed character outlines, and often other research material. I know what my characters want, need, what they’re afraid of, what they like for lunch, their hobbies, political outlooks or lack thereof—and although many of those details never make it to the story, they makes the characters real for me. Which is why they often go running off onto those side roads I mentioned, surprising me as much as the reader.
Then I write. That’s the fun part. Give me a place to sit and enough room to break out my laptop, and there’s my office. Except the bathtub—there are logistical problems to writing in the bathtub.
And, although I go back and read through the previous day’s work at every writing session, my stories are always in for five or six polishings before anyone else sees them, because that’s how I roll. And if you’ve ever tried to roll while revising, you know it’s a challenge.

            Here are a few other blogs from friends of mine, more or less at random but chosen from Blogspot because I’m lazy:

            William Kendall has that rare ability to make you laugh even if you’re a fan of what he’s making fun of. He likes winter and hates musicals, but nobody’s perfect.

            Kelly Hashway writes speculative fiction, or so I speculate, and has already done the tour—no guilt trip here for her.

            Rosanne Dingli is a writer of rich writing who also writes about writing, right?
Say it three times fast … take a chance.

            Yes, I cheated on this assignment to a degree, but I just finished proofreading my new book proof and now I’m sending off for another proof to prove I’m ready to publish. As you can probably tell by the last couple of paragraphs, I’m also very tired.