Friday, January 27, 2012

Man, We Were Good Kids

In my day, it was 12 or 15 hours to my grandparents' house, with the kids three across in the back seat, no video equipment or personal electronics, and all three of us subject to car sickness so that even books were out of the question.

Today, I can barely survive 6 hours to Plano even with iPods, Nintendo DSes, and enough elbow room in our minivan for everyone to do the Macarena.

On the other hand, maybe my siblings and I weren't all that much better than my kids. Maybe it was just that my dad reached his breaking point at an early age and taught us all to sing, "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wishing Bad Luck on People From Afar

Sometimes when I'm out for a jog, I'll look up at the sky and find Orion's belt, and then look to his shoulder where the sullen red star Betelgeuse hangs waiting to explode. Despite being younger than our sun, Betelgeuse is old and near death. This is because high-mass stars have much shorter lives than little dwarves like the one that lights our Earthly days.

Once it exhausts the fuel in its core, Betelgeuse will go supernova, becoming brighter than the full moon for several weeks and easily visible during the day.

It's been my habit, since I learned of this, to occasionally cross my fingers that Betelgeuse lights up at the close end of astronomers' estimates (any day now) rather than the far one (a million years in the future). But earlier this week, while glancing over my shoulder at the faintly scarlet star, it occurred to me how selfish this wish was.

Since Betelgeuse is only about ten million years old, it hasn't had time to develop any advanced life on whatever planets might orbit it. And it's too far away to pose any danger to Earth. So at a glance, its death seems to be a guaranteed spectacle for us and no threat to anyone.

But there could be dozens or hundreds (or even thousands) of other solar systems within lethal range of the radiation Betelgeuse will emit when it explodes, and as a result, I can't be certain that in wishing for its death, I'm not also wishing for the deaths of billions or trillions of living people on planets we will never know of.

That's rather a high price for me to receive a pretty light show.

So from now on, when out for my jog, I intend to look up at that bright star, red and gleaming, and hope that it does not enliven the night anytime soon. Or that if it does, any civilizations within its danger zone have found a means to protect themselves from its nuclear fury.

In the meantime, I can be pleased to know that its brightness and crimson hue tell me about a star so large it would reach almost to Jupiter if placed where our own sun sits. A titan living fast and enormously, blasting out energy on a scale ordinary mortals cannot imagine.

That's a beautiful sight too, and does no one any harm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Visionary Quote

I went to the optometrist today, because I started seeing two of everything shortly after getting my last pair of glasses. On her wall, she had a quote, which Google tells me is by Leo Buscaglia:

What you are is God's gift to you
What you make of yourself is your gift to God

Though I'm not traditionally religious, I found this to be a terrific thought. Why? Because it seems to discard dogmatic notions of religious duty and moral obligation in favor of a simple principle: the value of giving.

My optometrist gave me a new prescription, and in a few days, I hope to be seeing the world in a more unified image, one which will not give me splitting headaches. I don't know that I gave her much of anything back, other than saying, "Thank you." I didn't even let her know that I liked the quote on her wall. (To tell the truth, I was somewhat nervous she might tell me the double vision meant I had a brain cloud.)

But perhaps by sharing it here, I'm giving something forward, and perhaps when I go back to get my new lenses next week, I'll remember to tell her about that as well.

Perhaps, too, I'll figure out some small way in which I can make more of myself.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Better World

My friend Kelly postulated on Facebook that everything would be just a little bit better if Jake Lloyd hadn't been cast as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Of course, my brain immediately took that on as a challenge. I won't bore you with how this would have changed the outcomes of various elections and prevented numerous catastrophes, partly because I've made a New Year's Resolution to avoid politics and partly because it just wouldn't be funny. But here's how the world would be a better place in a Lloydless Phantom Menace Alternate Timeline.

(1) So let's set our stage: instead of casting a wooden, talentless waif indistinguishable from a zillion other playground-hollering little snots, George Lucas finds someone who could plausibly grow up to one day sound like James Earl Jones.

(2) Spending day after day on-set with an elementary-school kid who projects gravitas beyond his years, the rest of TPM's cast has no choice but to up their acting game and project real intensity into every scene.

(3) Even George Lucas isn't crass and shallow enough to put Jar-Jar Binks onscreen beside this razor-eyed tyke. Or maybe he keeps Jar-Jar, but dubs him into alien-speak and runs subtitles under all his dialogue. Either way, a massive improvement.

(4) From that, it naturally follows that moviegoers sit spellbound through TPM thinking, This is a hell of a movie, and Holy crap, this kid's gonna turn into Darth Vader! (As opposed to thinking, didn't this kid dent my car door when his effing razor scooter got away from him?)

(5) Encouraged by the enthusiastic response to Episode I, Lucas proceeds to Episode II with more focus and a dedication to maintaining quality. Despite his natural inclination to let actors get away with shoddy performances, he chooses instead to repeatedly slap Hayden Christensen around during the course of production, saying, "Christ, the ten-year-old was scarier than that in the last movie. Do better, or I'll have Frank Oz stick his hand up your ass and work your mouth for you -- Yoda's CGI in this film, so Frank's got the time to do it, too!"

(6) Attack of the Clones is heralded as cementing the return of Star Wars' greatness. It dominates the box office through the summer of 2002.

(7) Eager to ride the renewed bandwagon of space-based sci-fi, FOX promotes Joss Whedon's Firefly sensibly and runs the episodes in correct order in a good time-slot. Time magazine puts Nathan Fillion on its cover back-to-back with a Han Solo cardboard cutout, over the headline, "Better than Star Wars?"

(8) Faced with sudden competition and also riding the heady wave of two acclaimed Star Wars films in a row, George Lucas works night and day to make Revenge of the Sith the most intense and effective of all the Star Wars movies. This in and of itself might mean nothing, except that Lucas concedes he can't possibly outdo Whedon without help, and actually takes advice from people who know how to write throughout the creative process for Episode III.

(9) Paramount finally recognizes that it can no longer blame the poor ratings for "Enterprise" on some kind of flagging interest in sci-fi. The entire writing staff and all the producers are fired, and replaced with a new creative team focused on good storytelling and exciting plots.

(10) With Firefly and Enterprise duking it out on the small screen and Battlestar Galactica debuting during production as well, Lucas continues to seek all possible collaborative input into making Revenge of the Sith the greatest science fiction movie ever made. It wins Best Picture for 2005, and lands acting Oscars for Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee, and Ewan MacGregor. Hayden Christensen good-naturedly jokes that he'll get his nomination for Episode VII.

(11) Having had so much fun and finally achieved critical acclaim as great as his box office success, Lucas announces his third trilogy will soon go into production, but that he intends to take it easy, letting Ron Moore produce and Ridley Scott direct. Moore is giddy about the project, saying, "When I saw how George wrapped up Episode III, it gave me the balls to avoid ending Galactica with some kind of ambiguous, chicken-sh*t cop-out. I'm certainly not going to let him down now!" Scott is more reserved, but does remark that he'll be pleased to work with Harrison Ford again.

(12) Aglow with optimism and delight at the prospect of a future full of quality Star Wars films, the world has no time for economic downturns, and the allegorical fate of the Trade Federation has scared most of the Bernie Madoffs of the world into hiding anyway, leading to an endless housing boom and a world economy bustling enough to more than support Episode VII's $1 billion budget.

(13) During production of the final Star Wars trilogy, Industrial Light and Magic literally invents magic, and nothing bad ever happens in the world again.

Now admit it, does any of that really sound so far-fetched?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I've Added My Twitter Feed To The Sidebar

Now you can see how unclever I can be in 140 characters or less even if you're not on Twitter!

Friday, January 20, 2012

55 Topical Words

“Sir, the newspapers say you admitted to your housekeeper that you burned your house down for the insurance because your wife ran up your credit cards just before divorcing you for cheating on her with transvestites. Is this true?”

“That story is false!” he expostulated righteously, thinking, I never told the housekeeper they were transvestites!

55

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Place, A Person, A Life In Few Words

I'm in the middle of Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making right now -- or really not so much the middle as the beginning. I just read Chapter V last night, and it was such a perfect chapter that I couldn't read further.

I've read plenty of good chapters in plenty of good books over the years, and it's not at all uncommon to encounter one so good that I just have to keep reading into the next. And of course it happens much too often that a chapter is so humdrum as to leave me unwilling to put any more energy into reading further, so I set the book aside for later.

But Chapter V of this book struck me as too beautiful to disrespect by rushing on past it. Valente has a marvelous skill throughout the book of putting something deeply moving or wise on almost every page. But she outdid herself in this chapter, with a setting full of wist and heartache and grace, the introduction of a sympathetic and striking minor character, glimpses into the history of Fairyland, intimations of the challenges that our titular protagonist may have ahead of her ...

As a narrative unit, the chapter achieved a real perfection, combining mood and movement and meaning into something much larger than the narrow frame of its pages. And having read such perfection, I had to stop -- in part because I feared that the next chapter might not be as wondrous, but also in part because I did not wish to rush away from that place, which Valente painted with such finesse that it set a hook into my heart and begged me to stay.

Monday, January 16, 2012

\m/

video
This is one of my Garageband songs. I've been working on it bit by bit since Thanksgiving, and while it could probably use some more fiddling, I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out. I don't mean fiddling fiddling, because Garageband doesn't have a fiddle, and it's not really a fiddle kind of song. I mean the other kind of fiddling.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't hear this song rocking a giant stadium full of headbangers ... more like the kind of song you hear on a local auto parts store's radio commercial and think, "Hey, that's kind of catchy."

If you disagree and think I'm embarrassing myself, please feel free to let me know!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Monster Jam and Twitter

This morning I signed up for Twitter. This afternoon, I took the boys to Monster Jam. While on the surface these might seem as dissimilar as two very dissimilar things in a pod, they share a common trait: a swirling, cacophonous, disorienting overload of sensation.

With Twitter, you get your hand held through just enough of the process to lull you into a state of total unpreparedness so that you're completely aghast when they drop the step-by-step signup procedure and thrust you precipitously from the plank into the raging sea of tweets that is Twitter.

With Monster Jam, you find yourself buffeted by crowds, noise, and the physical vibrations of the roaring truck engines deep in your gut.

Both of these forums provide you the opportunity to see humanity in all of its most brazen, daring, exhibitionistic and voyeuristic glory/depravity/genius/insanity.

My Twitter handle is @HerbMallette. I don't have a Monster Jam handle yet -- I'll let you know if and when I acquire a competition-ready truck.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Garageband Approach To Life

A little before Thanksgiving this year, I got Garageband for my iPad. The Macintosh version came standard on my computer two years ago, and I played around with it a bit at first but eventually gave up because nothing productive seemed to be resulting. But a video I saw of the iPad version just looked too alluring, so I went to the app store and bought it.

The brilliance of Garageband on the iPad is this: the app seems to have been designed specifically for people who know just enough about constructing music to be dangerous.

All of the instruments have "smart" options, which is to say that the user has the option to let the instrument be the smart one, in case the user's musical smarts are lacking. You can play a traditional keyboard or use a guitar fretboard via the touch-screen, but you can also select versions of the keyboards that are divided up by chord: C, F, G, A-minor, etc. So I can start a bass track by playing two bars on the G chord notes, one each on the C and F chord notes, and return to the G chord notes to finish up. Then I can go to the keyboard and have it do a G arpeggio, a run of C and F notes, and another G arpeggio. Then I can chunk in some rhythm guitar using the same chords, and noodle around on another guitar until I find a lead melody that fits with my backing tracks. When I have one eight-bar section done, I can move on and create another one, copying the bass line forward if I want to reuse it, and looping repeating elements so that I don't have to play them over and over again.

Most importantly, I can do all of this at a tempo of 60 beats per minute, and when I'm done I can dial it up to 130 bpm. The result is a fast-paced song with no dissonance, nothing off-key, and a whole lot of musical density, without even that much investment of time.

What I need now are some apps that let me do this with the rest of my life: block it into manageable chunks, make sure the chunks line up without clashing or conflicting, and run the whole thing at a speed that's easy to deal with.

Any day now, I'll be a virtuoso!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Betsy Carson Rupe

My friend and coworker Betsy Rupe died last night after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she was battling cancer for the first year and a half, and simply refused to die for a year after the doctors told her the cancer had won.

Six weeks ago, Betsy wrote this in her online journal: "It seems that Mom was a bit optimistic in promising an update. I'm sorry if that's worried anyone." She went on to describe a rough week recovering from her latest surgery, and then went on from there to describe how pleased she had been to spend Thanksgiving with her family, and how much she had to be thankful for.

That's the kind of person Betsy was. Having been terminal for almost a year, with death now staring her very plainly in the face, her first concern was still for the people around her. She felt bad that her lag in communicating might have caused anyone to be anxious. So she rectified the situation by bringing us up to date on her surgery, and how they'd tunneled through her jugular as part of it -- and then she made sure to close by letting us all know how blessed and lucky she felt.

I was glad to see that her mother, in posting the awful but entirely expected news, said that Betsy had died, not that she had "passed." I'm pretty sure that no matter how peacefully Betsy went, she did not "pass," but was taken from us. If she managed to avoid kicking and screaming at the time, it was because she did not want to traumatize those who were present.

My life is a greater thing for having included her. I hope that when my own end comes, I can provide even half the example of strength and courage that she did.

Safe travels, Betsy. If there is anything beyond this life, I know that right now you are exploring it with eyes full of wonder, an intellect as great as any I ever encountered, and a heart of compassion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I've Started Another Blog!

But don't worry, I'm not giving up on this one.

My new endeavor is Page 82 Reviews, a wonderful site that I intend to use to become a prolific book reviewer, despite my complete lack of time to read lots of books.

My gimmick is that I'm only going to review page 82 out of any given book. I figure, if it's a really good book, then even a page chosen more or less at random ought to be worth reading. And conversely, if it's a terrible book, one page should tell me all I need to know.

Whatever's going on in a book, it ought to be in full swing by page 82, right?

Anyway, head on over to check out my review of page 82 of The Fellowship of the Rings. Then use the voting buttons to say whether you think it's a great page 82 or not.

What could be simpler?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rediscovering One Of My Favorite Albums

After not hearing Jill Sobule's self-titled CD for several years, I put it on my iPod because it resurfaced while we were cleaning out our computer hutch. Over two nights of jogging, I revisited it, and found myself amazed all over again. There's not a bad song on this album, and most of the tracks are terrific. But there are two standouts that deserved to be mammoth, test-of-time hits, and it's a shame that hasn't happened: "I Kissed a Girl" and "Vrbana Bridge."

"I Kissed a Girl" gets pigeonholed as a novelty song because it is so catchy, funny, and upbeat. But this isn't just a playful tune about casual, flighty experimentation. It's a celebration of self-recognition: a song about the triumph of internal honesty that happens when one finally admits to and acts on a long-repressed truth. (Curiously, the Katy Perry song of the same title may be about exactly the same thing; it's just that Sobule's truth is a more beautiful, decent, and interesting one than Perry's.) The fleeting, knowing pause between "She took off her overcoat" and the first refrain is one of the most beautiful caesuras in lyrics that I know of. And the guitar solo, roaring and joyous, ought to let anyone with ears know that this song means to say something that goes beyond mere words.

Near the end of the album (and thank heavens it's not the last song) comes "Vrbana Bridge," an exquisitely heartbreaking story about the power of love to change us. If you can listen to this song without wanting to cry, then I congratulate you, because you're apparently invulnerable to any kind of hurt. And yet even in its absolutely rending tragedy, it lights a flame of hope and beauty. Truly one of the most remarkable songs I've ever heard.

Sobule's voice, songwriting, satire, musicianship, and sense of artistry are all beyond compare on this CD. It is astonishing that she is not as wealthy and famous as any female singer today.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Goodreads Review of The Sourtoe Cocktail Club

The Sourtoe Cocktail Club: The Yukon Odyssey of a Father and Son in Search of a Mummified Human Toe ... and Everything ElseThe Sourtoe Cocktail Club: The Yukon Odyssey of a Father and Son in Search of a Mummified Human Toe ... and Everything Else by Ron Franscell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A good travel book allows you to experience something vicariously -- a place, a time, a people. A well-written memoir gives you a sense of someone, intrigues and entertains you with the personality of the subject, catches you up in the events of a life. A clever humor book buoys your mood with laughter; a sensible self-help book makes you think you might be able to better yourself; an ingenious mystery keeps you guessing what the twist at the very end will be.

A great book transcends all of those accomplishments and turns a mirror upon your soul to make you feel alive with understanding.

The Sourtoe Cocktail Club is a great book.

If you enjoy confessional autobiographies, this is a book for you. If you hate confessional autobiographies but get a kick out of a good adventure story, this is a book for you. If you are fascinated by people, journeys, and exotic locales, if you are in need of a true and heartfelt laugh, if you hunger for the awesome beauty of some spectacular wilderness, if you have ever been a father or a son, or had a father or a son, or needed a father or a son -- if you more than anything want, from your head to your toes, for life to mean something, this is a book for you.

Ron Franscell took a journey and wrote about it. But he didn’t write about it so that you would understand his journey. He wrote about it so that you would understand that your journey is before you.

This book is a true accomplishment -- a rarity, a treasure.


View all my reviews

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Two Types of Writers

There are, of course, as many different types of writers as there are individuals who call themselves writers. No two of us are drafted in exactly the same style. But there are a couple of very common varieties to our basic outlines, and I want to write about those for a bit.

Just as readers may read for escapism or for enlightenment, so too do writers write from those motives. It's not really an either/or thing; I think every writer has some degree of escapist in her heart, and some desire in his soul to feel wise and to express that wisdom.

But ultimately, this boils down to one of two main drives urging the writer on. Either he wishes to control the world, or she wishes to understand it.

On the one hand, people who've been hurt or frustrated by reality -- or who are simply bored with it -- can dodge away from the harsh truths of their lives, or else turn the tables on those truths and create new ones of their own by writing. A writer of thrillers or mysteries or war tales may inflict any brutality or revenge he likes upon any conceivable individual he dislikes, at least within the pages of the story. A fantasist or an author of science fiction may flee from our world altogether, journeying to realms limited only by the breadth of her imagination. Fiction (or even non-fiction in some cases) allows these writers to master that which is otherwise beyond their control -- to find freedom where they feel constrained, power where they feel helpless.

If sufficiently talented, such writers may create worlds and tales that are attractive, alluring, even delightful -- and yet in real life they may turn out to be surprisingly unpleasant people. This is true because individuals motivated by a powerful desire to escape or control reality are often going to be very self-centered, inward-looking people.

In contrast, the other end of the spectrum is home to the writer who writes out of a need to understand. This may also be someone who has been antagonized, pained, or bored by existence -- but instead of seeking to deny reality its hold on his or her life, this sort of writer insists that there must be some sort of reason or meaning or purpose to all the suffering, all the grief. Where the other sort of writer wishes to grasp sources of happiness by writing them into her own reality, this sort of writer seeks to measure joy against horror and love against revulsion, in order to find the explanation that makes them all a part of the wonder that is Living.

And here's the most important divider between these two types of writers: the second type is doomed to inevitable failure if he does not possess empathy. The world cannot be understood if one has no talent for absorbing other perspectives, no feeling of kinship for those whose attitudes, ideas, and experiences are fresh and different and even contrary to the writer's own. To accomplish the goal of finding truth, you must take other people into account. In failing to do so, you can paint only delusions.

Unfortunately, not all writers know which sort they are. A great many escapists fancy themselves as seekers instead, imagining that they write Truths instead of crafting mere fiction. Then too, there are explorers who stumble upon their true direction only inadvertently as they try to flee into a realm of fantasy.

None of this is cut-and-dried, separable by way of some dichotomous key that lets us categorize writers and their works cleanly into one of two camps. But it does, I think, help explain why some writers can craft amazing stories about fascinating and virtuous characters engaged in escapades of adventure and romance, and yet remain rather sour and distasteful human beings in their own lives.

If you write because you want to know the world, then you probably also want to know people. And it's hard to really know people without then wanting to be nice to them. (Well ... most of them.)

So the next time you're reading a book, you might try to notice whether the author seems more interested in figuring things out, or in forcing them to do his bidding. A clue is that the escapist will often try to convince you that she is right, while the seeker will generally leave you to your own conclusions.

Conversely, the next time you're reading a book, you might want to forget about this post altogether.

There is, after all, a certain worth in just having fun and not thinking too hard about things.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

So Far In 2012...

I've sold 2 copies of The Last Tragedy and 7 of The Sharp Edge of Memory. I'm crossing my fingers that this means that the 1,000 or so copies of The Last Tragedy that were downloaded in December are starting to be read, and that those readers are immediately seeking out the sequel!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reviews

I'm up to four reviews on Amazon now for The Last Tragedy. They're all very complimentary and very gratifying, but I will say, the moment I saw the first one from a complete stranger, I felt an entirely different sense of accomplishment.

I've had relatively disinterested parties read my books and react positively to them, so I'm aware that the evidence suggests that my writing is objectively good (to the extent that any writing can be considered objectively anything). But there has always been some thread of personal connection to inject the possibility of bias into those responses. So to see the book getting high marks from that first unknown person, that first individual who had nothing at stake except the time spent reading the book -- it couldn't help but feel like a threshold being crossed.

Every review will be its own thing for a while now. Sooner or later I'll get my first review on The Sharp Edge of Memory. I'll get my first review on Amazon.co.uk, or my first verbose review (I've written plenty of those myself, but all the ones I've received to date have been pretty succinct).

And of course, there will be my first bad review. It'll be interesting to see how that feels, although I'm certainly not in any rush to find out.

Eventually, with any luck or persistence on my part, I'll accumulate enough reviews that some of them start to blur together, or enough that I no longer find each individual review a noteworthy event.

But I hope it takes a lot of them to get to that point.

Paydirt! (On Yesterday's Entry, Not On Anything Important)

Well, I still woke up at 4 a.m., but I did remember a dream. I was telling somebody about a college class I once took, for which I had to write a computer simulation based on the old Traveller role-playing game. (And that was actually the assignment -- I didn't choose to make it about Traveller.)

To my surprise, the other person had just enrolled in the current version of the same class, and was very enthused about the fact that the Traveller simulation assignment was still on the syllabus. The dream ended with me offering to share an old novella I wrote based on my program, only to discover that I'd written a note on the last page of my manuscript that was innocent at the time but seemed highly embarrassing out of context.

As is usual with dreams, none of this seemed the least bit implausible while it was happening. I just thought it was marvelous fortune to run into someone else who enjoyed Traveller. Only with waking retrospect did I feel sorry for the hundreds or thousands of students who must have taken that professor's class over the decades without the benefit of having played Traveller beforehand.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Need of Sleep and Dreams

I've been sleeping a bit poorly of late, waking up several times a night and then not always able to fall back asleep at once. What's made this even worse than it sounds is the fact that I haven't been remembering very many dreams out of it.

Usually, if something disturbs my sleep, it does so mid-dream, and I wake up still holding wisps of dream-stuff and dream-story in my head. Whether they're good dreams or bad, that experience is always interesting to me. Once in a while, I'll pop awake with an original tune in my head, a melody that my brain composed while unconscious. That's extremely cool when it happens, although it always makes me wish I had a better memory for melodies, so that I could actually recall the notes later and do something with it. (I did once manage to keep a tune long enough to write a song out of it, though I've never gotten around to arranging more than the vocal part.)

At any rate, dreams are fertile and fascinating, and if I'm going to be turned out of my comfortable night's rest, it would at least be nice to remember the dreams. But lately, I've had little such luck.

I would also settle for a good, solid night's sleep that would leave me feeling rested and ready to take on the next day, instead of grumbling and groaning at having to crawl from beneath the covers when my alarm clock goes off.

But that, I think, is even less probable.

Good night and sweet dreams to all!

Monday, January 2, 2012

More Cover Shenanigans

Following up on my post from a few days ago, I've been monkeying with the cover of The Last Tragedy, trying to achieve a more current design sensibility. I've also been in contact with a very talented artist I know to discuss the possibilities of having him do some or all of the covers for the series.

I think the redesign is a distinct improvement (although I was kind of fond of the dated aesthetic of the original).

Feel free to let me know what you think!

Back to Work!

Well, the holidays officially wrap up for me today, and tomorrow it's back to the daily grind. And it's back to no excuses about making daily progress on my current novel. And I now have this blog to keep up with as well.

And I've got to figure out how to best promote the books I've already published and get the next two out as well.

It's shaping up to be a busy year ... I sure hope it turns out the Mayans were wrong, because if I do all this work and then the world ends, I'm going to be ticked!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Minor Correction That Needs To Be Made To Our Holiday Calendar

It's very nice that Christmas and New Year's are spaced an easy week apart, creating a holiday season that extends for a good chunk of time. But I think that they're arranged in the wrong order.

Because Christmas comes first, and involves so much decoration, there's an inevitable need to clear out all the Christmas paraphernalia at the end of the holiday season. At our house, that's likely to be today or tomorrow.

But what kind of way is it to start off the new year by packing away all the tidings of joy and goodwill that we just finished celebrating?

Wouldn't it be better to toast the arrival of the new year one week, bask in its implications of change and futurity, and then follow that the next week with the holiday that's all about giving and forgiveness? Wouldn't it be better to pause at the very beginning of the new year in order to recognize the power of redemption and open-heartedness, rather than using the occasion to box up and store the trappings of our spiritual generosity?

Sure, we'd have to change the date of the second-most important holiday of one of our major religions, but it seems like a good idea to me. Maybe I should talk to the Pope.