A Call to Action

One of my co-workers is going through his third bout with leukemia. There's a newly approved medication they're giving him, but he needs a bone marrow transplant. So, this post is going to serve two purposes. First, it's a prayer request. Second, it's a call to action.

The National Bone Marrow Donor Registry is the type matching clearing house for the transplant my co-worker needs. Registration is simple and the type matching is done from a cheek swab. It's painless, quick, and it could save someone's life, perhaps even my fellow carrier's. There is sometimes a cost to registering because of the expense of testing, but the NBMD frequently holds events where you can join for free.

One such event is next weekend (July 30th & 31st) at Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix. They'll be in the food court registering donors. United Blood Services will be there as well - so you can donate blood, too, if you're so inclined. (Yeah, the pun is intentional.)

I'm asking my friends to check out the NBMD website and register. They figure my co-worker will be healthy enough for the transplant in six months. Six months to find a match. Will you be the one to save his life?

Phoenix Comicon! (Part Two)


After seeing all the great costumes from Friday, I decided I was going to dress up as well. I also convinced Joy to wear her dress for the Geek Prom all day, rather than try to figure out someplace to store it and changing later. I borrowed one of the little one's stuffed animals to make my costume more recognizable. I'd say my costume went over well. One person called it "the most random cosplay he'd ever seen" and a delighted young lady told me I'd brought her entire childhood to life.
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Coming in Part Three: Look Issac! DROIDS! Conscious thought! Interplanetary Rovers! Zombie Stormtroopers! Plus pic spam! Lots and lots of pic spam!

Phoenix Comicon! (Part One)

What do you get when you take comic books, science fiction, fantasy, anime, costumes, and games and cram them all into one space for a weekend? You get three days in Geekdom Heaven. (Four if you count Thursday night.) For the clueless among you, this Memorial Day weekend was Phoenix Comicon and Joy, Michael, Jacob and I jumped into our natural habitat with all eight feet.

Before I tell the world about our Comicon experience, I must send out a HUGE thank you to our babysitter, Anna, for taking care of our little ones all day Friday and Saturday.

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Coming in Part Two: I join the ranks of the cosplayers! Joy turns heads as a beginner Lolita! Jacob and Michael discover the ins and outs of Star Wars armor and droid replicas! Bruce Boxleitner! Wil Wheaton! And THE best quip of the con!

The State of Things

I've started working on the outline for Squirrel's Run. There are still many details to work out, but I know the basic story I want to tell, and I've got a pretty good feel for my main character.

I finished the edit pass for Oak, Ash, and Lilac a few days later than I'd hoped, but it got done. I've been compiling a list of agents to query for it. As I said in my goals for this year, if there's no interest from this round, I'm going to shelve the project. I've spent years working on it, mostly polishing it. But I think I've learned all I can from writing this book. Gabby's story is, simply, as good as I can make it with my current skills and there are other stories to be written. I can't do that with OAL's fate unresolved.

I'd also like to finish the AEdyll trilogy someday - but I need more planning before it's ready and the first book needs a ground level rewrite. Somewhere along the way, I lost Carl and Winnie's plot and I need a more definitive idea of what happened and when.

Officially, I'm abandoning my goal of writing a short story each month. It's not practical for me. I might be able to pull it off in a year or two, but I need to establish a more regular writing routine.

And just WHY did I let a travel agent infodump in my novel?

I'm chugging along on edits for OAL and the whole thing comes to a screeching halt as one character gives a geography lesson.

Ah. No.

Gabby, I know you're trying to keep him talking, but let's find another subject to make chit chat on, shall we?

Kedric, Dude. Seriously. You have a pretty girl all to yourself and you're describing your country's borders? I said act awkward - not complete gamer geek. You are hereby banned from reading any more of the world bible.

*goes to get the machete so he can start fixing this section*

Why I Don't Listen to Talk Radio

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about everything going on in the Middle East. It became clear to me pretty quick he was anxious and worried - start of Armageddon, end of the world,  see the banana  worried. (That last one will make sense if you look at my userpic here on LJ.) He seemed surprised I didn't share his concern. Instead, I commented it reminded me of the early 90's and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. I also speculated how Tienanmen Square would have ended had the Internet been as prevalent then as it is now.

Thinking back on the conversation, I remember being vaguely disturbed by his concerns and just why was he worrying about this. As a Christian, I take Christ's words in Matthew 6:25-26 quite seriously. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Before you wonder how seriously I take them, I love the Rich Mullins paraphrase from "Hard": "And He will watch over you and He will watch over me so we can dress like flowers and eat like birds." 

I happen to know which radio programs my friend listens to, and which talk show hosts he likes. It didn't take long to connect the dots and I suddenly realized why I can't stand talk radio. Keep in mind, the most successful talk radio is on commercial stations. This means the show has to draw listeners so they can sell advertising. Talk radio is all about selling, just like any other commercial endeavor. But what they're selling is fear. Fear the evil conservatives and corporations! Fear the evil liberals and their social programs! Oh, and while you're fearing them, buy a little comfort from our sponsors.

See, I don't do fear very well these days. I spent plenty of time as a teenager afraid - afraid of being myself, afraid of the future, afraid of what people thought of me. In the end, I decided all that fear was a waste of time. The talk show hosts can keep their fear. I have better things to do.

Do we ever stop tinkering?

You would think after five years, I wouldn't find much in the first chapter of Oak, Ash, and Lilac to tweak. Except, I have. A few word choices here, a tense issue there. I doubt any writer ever truly stops tinkering with their work - until it's published and then it's a little hard to go back and fix something. Honestly, I'm still unhappy with the opening line. It doesn't grab as well as I'd like.

However, I have a deadline to make and a new character breathing down my neck because I didn't finish her short story in the first week of the month, like I'd planned. Fortunately, there are only forty-four chapters in OAL which should give me plenty of time to finish tweaking each chapter - if I take a full day to work on each chapter.

Somewhere in this, I should do another read through of "First Rule of Monsters" in preparation for it's next outing.

Long Overdue Introduction

So, sometime last year, I mentioned blogging about Chloe, our sometimes cat.

One evening in 2009, Joy called me into the living room, telling me we had a problem. Said problem was a very large cat who'd just wandered out of our bedroom. My first thought was: "But we don't HAVE a cat." The second was: "How'd it get in?"

The bathtub in our master bath has an access panel attached with velcro so you don't have to rip the tub out to work on the pipes. This had come loose and the cat climbed up from in under the house and let himself in. Isaac was sound asleep at the time, but Elizabeth found this new creature fascinating . . . right up until it brushed against her and then she burst into tears. Once she calmed down and had a chance to pet the kitty, we put the panel back and turned it out.

However, like the story says, the cat came back. Eventually, I duct taped the panel shut, but by this time, we'd named the cat Chloe. (Note: Chloe is a neutered male. Joy apparently can't tell the difference between a female cat and a neutered male.) Chloe actually belongs to the neighbors across the street, but they don't like him much due to his tendency to pounce passing ankles. He's a very affectionate cat and spends quite a bit of time dozing on our bed now. He also puts up with anything Elizabeth dishes out. I've seen her flop on Chloe with her full body and all he does is purr louder for her.

Chloe is also a mouser - which makes me quite happy. We had to deal with two mice getting into the house when we first moved in and the idea of a cat exterminator has appeal. It was Chloe's idea of turning the house into a private game reserve that got the bathroom panel duct taped, though. Apparently, he decided to use our bedroom for 'catch and release' by bringing a mouse in through the panel and letting it go so he could chase it without fear of it escaping. Come to think of it, mouser is probably the wrong term.

You see, last year, while Joy and I were at the ballet, we got a picture text from Anna. The picture was blurry and I couldn't tell what it was, so I called her. The conversation went something like this:

Anna: Um, the cat caught a rabbit. What should I do?

Me: Get a plastic bag, turn it inside out around your hand, pick up the baby rabbit and put it outside.

Anna: It's not a baby rabbit.

Me: How big is it?

Anna: Foot and a half long, at least.

Me: . . .

Yes, this cat hunts rabbits - ate the whole thing, too. Anna videoed it with her phone. No, I'm not posting the video. However, I will post the picture we took of Chloe the first night he decided to let himself in. As I said, he's a large cat - not a fat cat - LARGE.

Of course, these days, there's a pair of kittens hanging around, too. We've named them Lindsey and Mariah (after the twins at our church). We've let them in as an experiment - but when Lindsey started hissing at Chloe over the food dish . . . that ended that. Nobody hisses at our sometimes cat over his own food. And I've given Chloe full permission to pin that kitten's ears back. I have no doubt he will.

Goals (2011 edition)

Well, of the goals I set for last year, I only accomplished 2 1/4 of them. I reorganized the library, turning it into what my wife calls "the most comfortable room in the house." I read one book on Rockefeller. (I was supposed to read three.) And I read eleven books by authors I'd never read before. (The goal was twelve - one for each month of the year. November distracted me with tons of mail to deliver.)

So, am I abandoning this whole goal setting because I blew most of them last year?

No. If I hadn't set a goal of redoing the library last year, it would still be a jumbled mess. So, in that, I feel like 2010's goals were successful.

With that in mind, here are my goals for 2011:

1)               Writing (Creative): The first week of each month will be dedicated to writing a new short story. By the end of the week, said story will be written, self-edited and posted to the OWW.

2)               Writing (Creative): The remaining weeks will be dedicated to novel writing as follows: Jan - Mar: Final edits on OAL. Apr - Sept: Writing new novel. Oct - Dec: Edits on new novel.

3)               Writing (Business): At the end of each month, each short story not currently submitted will be sent out to an appropriate market.

4)               Writing (Business): OAL will be submitted to my top ten potential agents no later than my birthday. If nothing comes of these submissions, OAL will officially retire from the field and possibly be serialized on my LiveJournal.

5)               Writing (Business): I will schedule myself off from writing two days a week.

6)               Personal (Physical): I will establish a new exercise routine with the intent of losing at least ten pounds.

7)               Personal (Spiritual): Begin in depth Bible study sessions with the family.

8)               Personal (Mental): Subscribe to Games Magazine and work through the magazine.

9)               Relational (Marriage): Enroll in ballroom dance class with Joy.

10)          Home Improvement: Redecorate Master Bedroom to fairy tale theme.


Yes, I'm well aware that #4 violates some age old writer wisdom about not putting rejected novels out on the 'net. However, I'm quite proud of Oak, Ash, and Lilac even all these years after having written it. Sooner or later, we have to let our children go and make their way in the world. This will be my way of doing that for Gabby.

I'm also getting a head start on #6 - down one pound already.