Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The End Is Near

Shortly after getting up today, I realized that it's been a week since I've posted. I've noticed that before; after a Blogfest, I seem to take a bit of a breather. Not that they take a lot out of me, but I guess that all the reading involved afterwards, and the subsequent Following (and being Followed – thank you kindly!) is more time-consuming.

If I'm not posting, odds are that I've gotten caught-up in Life Happens. Nothing extraordinary, nothing tragic, just the day-to-day stuff. This week, however, there's been a bit of a cloud hanging over the house. Next week, after Labour Day, my sweet wife is going back to work. By Gar, it's been a year already! And boy-howdy, is she ever excited about it! If you've got a moment, I can lay it on even thicker.

In preparation, we've been leaving Calli with the 'sitter for half-days on Thursdays. We figure that an acclimatization period was wise, so it isn't such a shock to her system when it becomes three days a week (Gramma takes her on Mondays, and I have Tuesdays off). All was going well, until Thursday night (about 1:30 AM), she woke up in a tizzy. Then, again on Friday night, another nocturnal tantrum. Either she's getting separation anxiety, or the new teeth coming in are giving her grief. Sadly, her language skills aren't up to giving us a clear answer on the trouble that wakes her. On Saturday, we had the 'sitter and her family over for a BarBQ, because it would help Calli to get used to them, and they're just good people, and fun to spend an afternoon with. The day of cleaning and yard work was nearly enough to put me to sleep right there at the grill, but it's all worth it to flex our hospitality muscles and enjoy friendly company.

Has anyone out there had to start daycare for a 1-year-old? Can you enlighten me as to what kind of distress we're in for? I'm aware that kids are a lot more resilient than we tend to give them credit for, but I'm wondering what kind of misery our house has in store.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy Day Blogfest.

Welcome to the Rainy Day Blogfest. Feel free to leave honest feedback (I'm sure I need it), and swing by and see Christine, our gracious host at The Writer's Hole. Enjoy!

To set the scene' Gemei (and a friend, Radian) are draft-dodgers in a fantasy world. They had to stop for help at a farm when Radian became deliriously ill.

It was very late, well past midnight, when Abe decided it was time to go home. From a forgotten barn on the property of the swill-brewer, they stumbled along wagon tracks and cow paths by the light of the moon. Abe, who had said maybe twenty words in the four days Gemei had worked with him, now slurred bawdy songs and praise for his beautiful wife in turn. Gemei had slept in a corner most of the evening, after throwing up the alcohol that was better suited to dissolving boots. When he came to, he found some ale, as rain thundered and whispered on the old roof in turn. Finding no one his age, he spent much of the evening by a minstrel with his lyre. He now enjoyed a nice glow.

“When I met Merill, she was fine. Dressed plain, see, in her father's fields, picking...OOF!”

“Abe?” Gemei looked up to where he'd been, walking beside him, but Abe wasn't there. He heard him laughing, though. A laugh that cut short in a disgusted noise.

“Aw, bear spawn, was it raining?”

Looking up, Gemei said “I think it still is.” Among the trees, it was hard to tell.

“Well, plainly it was. Plain as the puddle soakin' my breaches. Help me up.” Clasping each other's wrists, Gemei tried to pull the big farmer to his feet. Next thing they knew, they were both in the puddle, Gemei gasping at the cold, and Abe laughing at his effort.

“Yer a good'un Gemmy.” He was as surprised by the arm over his shoulders as the kind words, “but ya ain't no fisherman.”

“Not yet, I...”

“No one'd send lads your age alone to Manos. No one who's been there would trust farm boys to find their way without getting' cheated or conned or worse. And anyone who hasn't thinks if half the stories are true, you's have your eyes stolen by ogres and sold to witch's. No, if your mam and paps are alive, they don't know where you are any more than you do.”

Speechless, Gemei opened and closed his mouth, hoping his story would come, but only a drunken fog filled his head.

“Boy, ya look like one o' them fish you keep talkin' 'bout. No, my guess id it's the Garrison's you're fleein' They'll get ya, sure as sunrise, if it's just the two of ya.” Gemei felt like he was half the age of his fifteen summers as Abe measured him. Looking away, he continued. “By next full moon, the Gypsy's will be passin' through. I'll have a word with 'em. No reason they won't let you travel with them for a season. They're beneath the contempt of the Garrisons, and it'll be easier to stay hid.”

“But, Gypsies? They're...”

“They're decent enough, if they got no cause to take exception to ya.”

Gemei could no longer spin yarns. He'd been laid bare, and the relief was palpable. “My thanks...”

“Pah. Let's get home. Mornin' comes early, and I'd rather work with a head ache than listen to a lecture.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Born a Ramblin' Man...

Thank you all for the well-wishes on my first Blogaversary. I'm still having a lot of fun with it, and will carry on as long as I have an Internet connection and at least one finger to type with.

Speaking of fun things I do with my fingers, last Sunday I did something I haven't done in WAY too long. You may remember me writing about going to see the local metal band Breach & Entry, who have since disbanded. Shit happens, eh? Being in a band can be a lot like a romantic relationship, making it subject to all the volatility that entails. Anyhoo, I work with the vocalist, and we decided to get together for a little jam. Nothing serious, just showing each other what songs we know, but it was good times all around. We're not establishing a band, but who knows what the future will bring, eh? It would be pretty sweet though if I was the first person to grace the covers of Writer's Digest and Bass Player in the same month :)

At work, we did our inventory last night. I got home at 11:20, bragging about how our store manager made us a steak-and-roast-potato dinner. Never one to be out-done, Andrea told me that Calli had taken three steps without support. “Oh! Oh, WOW!” Our little girl's growing up so fast! Well, she is 11 months, it is about time, but as much as we're encouraging her, we're trying to let her develop at her own pace. I think that it's gonna be a life-long struggle to encourage her growth while giving her the space to do it in her own tempo. Neither of us are terribly patient, either, but we're both pretty clever.

Dammit, why didn't Andrea brew-up a manual to go with this child? Well, she's pretty healthy and happy so far, and she hasn't choked on a clump of dog hair yet, so we can't be doing too badly. I'm confident enough when I'm actively parenting, it's just when I step away for a minute that I start fretting. Is this common among parents?

Stay tuned Tuesday for the Rainy Day Blogfest, where fiction that features (wait for it...) rain will be posted by some mighty talented writers. If you'd care to get involved, stop by and see Christine's site, The Writer's Hole.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Blogaversary

One year ago today, the hype finally caught up to me. After several months of listening to Writer's Podcasts, and hearing about how a writer needs a Blog to promote themselves and build community, I started Fatherhood And Other Common Terrors (FAOCT Say it out loud. Totally accidental). I used the OCT part to give myself permission to write on other topics, mostly work ventings, but whatever came to mind.
A friend at work told me about how some woman (I still don't know who) started a Mommy Blog and went on to support herself and her husband with it. So I spent a day off Searching for Parenting Blogs. I found Crazy Texas Mommy and Throwing Quartersthat day, which I still enjoy. I also surfed around using the “Next Blog” button at the top of the page (a Blogger feature, if you), and saw a wide range of what's possible, from niche markets, to photography, to whatever-you-please. I found an amazing resource, and I was sorry that I didn't get into it years ago.
I've said it often, and it bears repeating: The real value of Blogging is community. It just can't be described to those who aren't into it. Naturally, I tried to get my friends to stop by and check it out. Few did. But when I visited other Blogs and commented, I was amazed that they would return the courtesy. These were Bloggers who had hundreds of followers, yet they took time for my little start-up with maybe 5. Those included my wife and my sister (separate people), and somehow, myself. Yup, if you check, you'll find me following my own Blog. And I find me riveting! Hanging on my every word, I am.
Another Blogger, Braham at Alfred Lives Here I enjoy is also celebrating his first Blogaversary, but he's doing it better than I am. For every comment he gets, he will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders, and $2 for every new follower. So at least stop by and check it out, and it's always a great read, so it's win-win-win.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cussin' and Color

Anyone who's tried it will tell you that writing is first and foremost an act of creation. Every story has it's characters and scenes that need to be formed from the actors imagination, but getting into Fantasy or Sci-Fi, there is so much more to conjure.

Profanity is something that really adds color to a story, but the words we use just wouldn't fit outside of our social context. I didn't put much thought into it until I wrote-in a farmer/veteran. Plainly, he wouldn't be speaking like the Aristocracy of my story, and not considering how he would speak differently would make my character's pretty 2-dimensional.

I remembered a conversation that I had with a friend at work. I had heard a customer use the phrase “Tabernac!” as a frustrated outburst. I asked him what it meant, and he didn't know, but he's heard a French-speaking friend use it on the golf course, so he knew it was pretty foul. My friend had been raised in Montreal, and only spoke French until he was 14.

He informed me that “Tabernac” was, as I suspected, derived from the location in a Catholic church that represents the presence of Christ. (In English, the word “Tabernacle” is used. It's from the Old Testament referring to the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept). Before explaining it to me, he said “As you know, a lot of swearing comes from religious words...” Well, yes, but I hadn't really considered it. That's why I love talking with bi-lingual people, they have a wider perspective, since words frame our thoughts, and they can think in two dialects.

Anyhow, to create the profanity of the world, I had to start with the religion of the world, and more importantly, how that religion was presented to the illiterate masses.

How do you deal with this? If your world-building is ground-up, like in Fantasy or Sci-Fi, how do handle this? How have you seen it handled by other authors?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Anyone up for another?

Well, last night kinda sucked. Well, mostly, it was fine, and parts of it were even great ;). The bad part was writing a post while trying to do a Disc Clean-up. Sounds pretty simple, right? Until I tell you that my computer is older than dirt. Really, the monitor has a third dimension. I keep a book within reach so I don't get bored while it's doing it's thing – no shit.

I want to thank you all for your feedback on my fiction, it was truly heart-warming! And inspiring; It's made me really eager to park my arse and carry on with this WiP. All of you were really kind, and there was no shortage of constructive critique. For the record, the “wax loftily...” line was meant to be a little sarcastic. I would have laid it on a little thicker if there wasn't a word-count to consider.

Some of the participants said that they weren't inclined to post portions of their Work in Progress on the Internet, and I can understand that. Giving milk and selling cows, and all that. I thought I would post from my own WiP because if I'm gonna participate and spend time writing, I should leverage that time investment to get my novel a little closer to done. I hate to admit it, but I've been sitting on this for years, and it's about time I put in the time to get the ball rolling!

Some of you were wondering if I was going to post some more of this. Well, let me tell you about the next Blogfest I'm participating in. Christine at The Writer's Hole is hosting a “Rainy Day Blogfest”on August 25.

I have three threads through the story: The Aristocracy (illustrated last Saturday), a pair of draft dodgers, and a spy. On the 25th, I'll introduce the draft dodgers.
Thanks again, and I'll talk to ya soon!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blogfest!

For your consideration, I humbly submit my entry for DL Hammons, High Drama Blogfest. Honest feedback would be much-appreciated, and be sure to check out the other entries!

There was a different tone to the buzz of conversation in the Council Chambers this morning. Officials of all the realms had found their cliques, and talked excitedly about the impending session. Surely, the Regent would need to announce today what would be done about the threat of the Khemites.
Shani was wanting to stall, allowing another week for the Priest's envoys to return, but he was not hopeful. None of the Council knew of the second mission of envoys, and the official dispatch had returned the day before yesterday. The Councilors had heard what they expected to hear; what Shani suspected that they had paid to hear. The second batch of envoys was to be without such allegiances, and therefore, providing a less biased account of the threat.
The five-minute bell sounded, and Councilors made their way to their seats, as pages continued to drift about. Shani waited with the other heads, three priests and three governors, until the herald announced them.
“Representatives of the Blessed Realm, please rise for the Regent, Shaniraquey.” They emerged and strode to the dais amid polite applause.
The Seven took their places, Shani in the center, three Prime Governors on his right, and three High Priests on his left. All others were then seated.
Shani checked the day's itinerary, and found no surprises. His stomach lurched at the names, unofficial heads of factions, all. Naturally, all wanted to be heard by the Assembly, but time allowed only five for certain, and up to twenty if there was minimal debate.
After Aliber said Prayers and Adorations, Shani stood. “The Realm recognizes Councilor Alna.”
A handsome man in his early forties stood. “Blessed Regent and distinguished colleagues..,” Alna waxed loftily of the history and dignity of Atlantis. As was customary for any pronouncement. Finally coming to the point: “...and now, our way of life is threatened by savages! We can no longer deny that the Khemites are building a fleet to bring war to our very shores! We have provided them with every opportunity of education and culture, yet they rise up against us!” Approval exploded through the Assembly. Shani's face betrayed nothing, not the uncertainty of his inexperience, nor the tremble in his hands. Nothing good ever came from a Regent declaring war in his third month, but he was loath to show weakness.
Alna continued. “The reports of our envoys are irrefutable. We must descend upon them, and remind them of the Glory of Atlantis!” No one disagreed on this point, and it took several minutes to resume order. Shani dreaded the response, and relished the moments between now and then.
Shani stood and held up a hand for silence. “It has never been our way to make war. We are not the Blessed Realm through force of arms, but through commerce and culture. We have always sought peace, for the individuals, and for the nations. However,” grumblings were escalating quickly, “insolence cannot be tolerated. And insolence from those who were our kindred until the time of our grandfathers must be addressed. A disciplinary campaign will be launched as soon as it can be arranged.” He felt as though the words had been spoken by another, cryptic and hollow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blogfest for Dramatic Tension

Just a quick note tonight. This morning I heard of a Blogfest for the fiction writers among us (and I know there's a few:) )

It's hosted by DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, and the idea is to post something that illustrates dramatic tension. Swing on by and check it out!

And just to clarify on that “diet,” it wasn't meant to be an on-going thing, just a week-long cleanse. Made it 5 ½ days; not too bad:)

Monday, August 2, 2010

We Deviated...

Last time I posted, I was bragging away about our turbo, warrior-like will power. That was about 26 hours before we deviated (it's nicer to say than “Failed”). In the end, it was the monotony that got to us. When we eventually got a different element added to our diet, it would grow tired fast. For example, when I last posted, it was Beef day, and immediately after putting it up, I went outside (at about 10:10 AM) and Bar-b-qed up some un-garnished steak. It was the most delightful meal I'd had in ages, but by that night, we were pretty tired of beef.

By Saturday afternoon, we broke down, split a chocolate chip muffin, and finished off some semi-stale Doritos. Yummers. That night for dinner, we had Thai Coconut Chicken (it was from a mix by Knorr, or Club House. I'm a big fan of credit-where-credit-is-due, but I'm not gonna dig through the garbage for it).

Yesterday, however, I brought leftover beef & vegetables to work for munching, and only got a granola bar from the vending machine, as opposed to a few butter tarts, chocolate bars, and/or muffins. This morning, we had a grapefruit for breakfast. I'm hoping to carry-on this trend of better eating, because I'm pretty darn sick of the lethargy that often weighs me down. I mean, I'll be pretty damn gung-ho at work, but on my own time, I gotta psych myself into any physical activity. If I mow the lawn, or walk the dog (either can take about an hour), I feel like I dragged a car for three blocks; Pathetic!

Another consideration is that Calli was born when I was 35, meaning that our first child will start school when I'm 40. That's pretty darn sobering, and I'd like to be healthy enough to enjoy my kids in good health.

Thank God I've got this space to make me accountable, putting it out there like this makes me more likely to follow-through on this! It sure helped with my writing; I'm not at 1000 words a day, but I'm almost daily! I know that the word-count isn't as important as the daily practice, but it's better to shoot for the moon and hit a tree, than to shoot for a tree and hit a rock.