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|Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010|
|Wrapping up the year
By this time tomorrow, I should be in Pensacola Beach, FL, celebrating the holidays with my family. Alleleuia! I am so happy for this it's hard to know where to begin discussing it.
In part, I love it because it's an end to a fairly stressful couple of weeks. It started out with getting either food poisoning or a case of the flu, and being sick for a weekend. When I decided to get out and drive over to Decorah, it turns out I did it in a literal blizzard, with whiteout conditions and everything...okay, that was actually kinda fun, but also stressful and not something I want to do again.
Part of the reason the couple of weeks has been stressful is that I've spent a metric crapton of money on Christmas, since I'm flying this year. So I've had to buy a plane ticket and pay to have my car parked...joy. Then my car started making funny noises, which resulted in me taking it into the shop, and my computer's power socket broke, so into the shop THAT goes. That's on top of the regular Christmas shopping. Oh well, I didn't need those saving anyway...
In happier news, a little over a month ago I bought a very nice leather jacket at a thrift shop. This has since become my new favorite item of clothing, and it's caused me to change up my wardrobe a bit as well. I'm pretty happy with it. I don't know what anyone else thinks about clothes, but I like jackets. Utility-wise, a jacket helps keep you warm and if it's made well it has enough pockets so you can feel prepared for any situation. On the fashion side, a jacket can make you feel pretty cool. At least it does for me.
As far as writing, I've recieved about four or five more rejection slips since October, so I've been sending out stories pretty consistently, or at least I was until my laptop broke down. I've gotten quite a few rejection letters, and they've stopped being form rejection letters and transitioned to "Good story but not for us. Good luck submitting it elsewhere!" I think that's a huge step forward, and it really spurs me to continue writing.
BTW, speaking of writing and Christmas, thanks to one Kara Gnome, who I really have been terrible about keeping in touch with, for letting me read the Connie Willis book of Christmas short stories last year. I loved it immensely, and even now I still have some fond memories of the Ghost of Christmas Presents popping up and causing mayhem and chaos, but all for the good of Christmas. In fact, for all of you who like a good Christmas story, let me offer up a little story by Ms. Willis, called "Just Like the Ones we Used to Know." This is particularly for you, Kara. http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0406/liketheonesweusedtono.shtml
Anyway, I am now going to do a little writing and then get to sleep. It's been a great year. BTW, for the few readers of this blog, I was thinking of adding one or two essays I've written. What do you think?
|Tuesday, October 26th, 2010|
|It was a Dark and Stormy Night
Finally! October has some proper stormy weather going on, and just in time for Halloween, too! It's very windy out here, a little rainy, and quite frankly the perfect setting for a gothic story.
In the meantime, I've resent one of my stories to "Necrotic Tissue." I call it the "Cabin story," because it takes place in and concerns a cabin in the woods. I'm currently calling it "Good Times in the Country," which is a little ironic, and quite frankly lacks a little something. But I still think it is a good story.
I also submitted a humorous fantasy/horror story to a big name in the sci-fi/fantasy publishing. It'll take a while to hear from them, and it is a longshot, but hey--I did it!
|Monday, October 25th, 2010|
Okay, so this weekend my brother Steve graduated from Palmer Chiropractic college. Incredible. After seven years. Hopefully he will be making a crapload of money very soon, because I think when you get a doctor's degree you should be compensated with a very high amount of cash. ;)
After the graduation ceremony, we celebrated with a riverboat cruise, complete with dinner and dancing. This is THE way to see the Mississippi, and I highly recommend it. The food was incredible, the band was lovely, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The next day consisted of a little more subdued time. We gave Steve a few gifts, then spent a lot of time playing the card game "Bang!" It's a great, great game that is pretty much always fun. What I've realized from this is that I need to get a LOT of games that are easy to learn and kind of quick to play. I'll need to do some research for this--I'm looking forward to it. :)
Dinner on Saturday was at a Japanese steakhouse. The chefs there put on a great show, and I think that they can make simple meat, vegetables and rice worthwhile. Stir-frying is indeed a wonderful thing.
Sunday was a very quick wedding. Very quick. The sermon was from "The Princess Bride," the wedding rings had gems that simulated Magic: the Gathering's color decks, and all in all it was a quick little affair. I know the person only tangentially, but Steve was standing up in the wedding.
Anyway, it was a great time. And now back to the grindstone.
|Monday, October 11th, 2010|
|This is just to say...
That I have returned from China. I am over the jetlag, and the virus I picked up on the plane has finally left. So I'm back, and I have to say that the experience was INCREDIBLE. I would recommend going to a large World Expo at least once. I spent two days there, and I can tell you I would have willingly spent four times that long.
Granted, seeing the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City were experiences I would not have missed either. I am so glad Andy suggested them.
If you are interested, pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/chris.c.gottschalk/SelectedChinaPhotos?authkey=Gv1sRgCIqxze_H1cjlKA#
|Thursday, September 23rd, 2010|
It's the night before China, I have to get up insanely early, and I cannot for the life of me sleep. This is going to be such a big adventure I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe it. It is certainly the farthest I've traveled to date.
I'll be back on October 3. Hold the fort down for me!
|Monday, September 20th, 2010|
|In Four Days I Leave the Country, and I'm Published!
Yep, in four days I leave for China to go see the World Expo. On some level it's still hitting me.
For some reason, I'm kinda scared. I have never traveled this far to a culture that is more foreign to me since...ever. I've loved reading about Japan, but seriously, this is somewhat similar and somewhat different at the same time. It's also more expensive than I'd anticipated. I figured out that getting there would be the expensive part, but there's also been the matter of buying stuff for international travel, like a money belt, neck wallet, day pack, luggage suitable for both carry-on and packing all your stuff. I'm 95 percent packed right now, and I just need some quick things (mostly stuff that involves preparing for emergencies and hoping they won't happen).
Now for the second bit of news--one of my stories will be aired at the website Flashes in the Dark (http://flashesinthedark.com/)!
I'm kind of excited about this. So look for my story on October 4. If you miss it the first time, don't worry--I'll post up a link to it.
Anyway, it's getting late. Will post more later.
|Monday, September 13th, 2010|
|I wanted to post something up here
I'm pretty tired, but I had a very relaxing weekend. I'll talk about it later. I've also got some very big plans that need acting on, and you can be sure I'll talk about those later too. I just wanted to let people know I'm still back and I'm still blogging.
|Sunday, August 29th, 2010|
Okay, so holy crap that was an experience. I did end up telling my editor I had lost the words, and she was more understanding than I had expected, so I was pretty grateful for that. Still, the last week was a mad dash to the finish, and adding in two case studies to the manuscript after it had technically been turned in. Agh.
I've got it back now, and I'm doing edit work on it, which is as fun as you might expect. It's good on some level, but on others it is really a pain in the neck. Not in a specific sense, but more of the "I'm a writer, I'm brilliant, can't you just ACCEPT that?" type of ego. ;)
Also, my birthday was on Thursday. It was pretty nice. The only real regret I have is that I don't really have anyone around I can party with. The two people who would have been candidates for that are taking night courses at a community college, so no dice there. Still, I went down to Cedar Rapids, bought some stuff that I had wanted, then finished up by getting a few necessities:
Casual Belt (the old one was wearing out).
Wristwatch (the old one had stopped working).
Insoles (one foot has been hurting since March. The extra padding is supposed to give it some rest and let it heal).
By the way, funny thing about Dr. Scholl's, the brand I ended up getting. They have a ton of specialized insoles to aid your exact foot type for $50. However, if you take three steps to the side, you can also find their basic $5 insoles. Those seem to work pretty well, and if they don't, well...it's better to be out $5 than it is to be out $50. I do recommend the $5 insoles. They seem to be working.
Granted, to be happy for buying such small things might be seen as a sign of getting old, but I think it's more positive. After all, it's nice to be able to be happy when little things go well. And, quite frankly, the books are pretty nice too.
|Saturday, August 21st, 2010|
|Thursday, August 19th, 2010|
|Monday, August 2nd, 2010|
|Can you succeed but still fail? Or fail but still succeed?
Okay, so this weekend was a big, big push to complete the book. Energy drinks were consumed en masse. I managed to hit the word count--65k, which means I got out somewhere in the area of 10k words in three days. Not bad, except for the fact that it's not enough. There's more information that needs to be written, and there's an issue with the editor. Technically, I'm over the deadline, but also technically it's hard to meet 20K+ words in two weeks. The more words you add to it, the harder it gets. So I have kind of a dilemma. I suppose the best I can do is to keep on plugging along until I hear otherwise. Agh.
|Wednesday, July 28th, 2010|
We've got some techical difficulties, and things to complete. Will be back when the "thing" is done.
|Tuesday, July 27th, 2010|
|Writing and Weirdness
Okay, I am getting to the point where I would love to chew off a leg if it meant not having to write, which based on previous experience means I'm getting closer to actually being able to write something. I'm not sure if this is the healthy way to do it, but I've spent the past three to four hours trying to think of what to write, only to have words dribble out like water from an old, rusty faucet. I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but for me it's as though writing is looking in a mirror. I can't write if I'm staring in that mirror. I have to calm myself, concentrate and take a step back, to the left and right, then suddenly look up and see if I am looking at the mirror from the right angle. If I can't, I have to pace around again, pretending as though the mirror isn't there.
What's really annoying is that you can't really tell what will work to get you in this frame of mind. It's very piecemeal. Blah.
So, I will just talk for a little bit about a topic that interests me, and then back to work.
I think I am at my best when things get weird. The weirder something gets, the more it makes sense to me. Oddly enough, the more normal a situation is, the less I find I'm able to really get a handle on what is going on. Sure, I can get along in polite company, but I always feel awkward unless something weird starts to happen. I'm always feeling as though I'm talking too much or that I'm not dressed right or that I'm not saying the right things. But add a little weirdness in, even an odd picture, and I'm in my element again.
I really don't get why that is. Maybe it's because normalcy bothers me. Weird people stand out, set trends, go against the flow and convince all the normal people to go against the flow too. Punk rock didn't come from normal people. For that matter, neither did rock and roll or heavy metal. Shakespeare went against the flow when he created all the present-day cliches. And generations followed along.
This has its bad side, too. Hitler tells Germans that Jews need to be exterminated, normal people say nothing and go along with it. The Crusades happened because normal people didn't speak up. The Gulf Oil Spill happened because someone weird suggested they cut corners, and normal people didn't object. So yeah, normality pretty much goes along with whatever the most charismatic weird person seems to say. That's obviously simplistic, but I think it serves to illustrate my point. Give me weird people. Ok, of course when I get to talk to weird people, I spend most of my time trying to understand them, but man, when I'm in the company of weird people, I know that I'm in the company of people who are being real. Perhaps that's what is wrong. Normalcy is always trying to be something other than what you are. Weird is what you get when you strip away everything else. Which I like. :)
|Sunday, July 25th, 2010|
Okay, I'm not sure why I'm so uninspired...I have to get this finished, and I really can't seem to get into the groove, to use a phrase. Nothing is quite working the way I would like it to, and I'm not really sure what to do.
I think tomorrow is going to be a rather work-intensive day...
|Friday, July 23rd, 2010|
I'm going to start out by saying this will be another short entry. This time it's because I'm very tired. Kendo, in case you were not aware, is a martial art devoted to Japanese fencing, aka using a katana. It is one of my favorite activities, and I have bought the kendo equipment to prove it, which was no small investment. When I lived in East Lansing, I would practice twice a week, for two hours at a time. Honestly, it was wonderful.
Cut to 2010. I have not practiced kendo for a while, and I finally got the nerve to drive to Rochester and practice for the first time in years. On the bright side, I made it through the practice without having to rest. On the downside...wow. Everything is sore. Legs, arms, shoulders, back...and I've got a couple blisters on my feet in the bargain. Not to mention my skills have SERIOUSLY deteriorated. It's kind of a shame.
Anyway, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open...more on this over the weekend.
|Friday, July 16th, 2010|
Okay...just a brief note, because this is some very compelling storytelling.
The anime is titled "Higurashi--When They Cry." It's a mystery/thriller, about a boy in a small town who starts to realize things aren't what they seem. I watched the first four episodes, and everything builds to a climax very quickly. Then the story ends, and I mean ends definitively, with absolutely no answer in sight, just the fact that something truly messed up has happened, and may continue to happen.
Then the next episode comes on, and it seems that things reset to the beginning of the story, but with different choices being made along the way. In this way, new facets are uncovered, and the story gets deeper. And creepier. A LOT creepier.
I might have to marathon this series. The link is below for anyone interested. It's probably for the best if you read it or have a significant other to go to bed with afterwards. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/video/6861/#play-1
|Thursday, July 15th, 2010|
I'm sitting here, watching a creepy little anime called "Higurashi--When They Cry." I'm getting to the end of the first story arc, and it's become very reminiscent of "Children of the Corn." Pretty good stuff.
Writing wise, I have three stories ready to be sent out, two regular-length and two flash pieces, which technically count as one. I've been going through my copy of Writer's Market, and I've discovered I'll probably need to invest in the copy of Writer's Market that concerns itself with short stories. Either that or sign up for a subscription with the electronic version. I do like being able to flip through pages of the book, though. And the interviews they give are really informative.
I've got another couple stories that I'm going to finish up, and then I'm not sure. I was thinking I was going to start on the unfinished novel I have. I reread the last part of it, and discovered it was surprisingly good. And I would dearly love to finish it. Then again, I have some great ideas for two other short stories which I could do. I think maybe it's time I really buckled down and finished the novel, much as I hate to leave those two short stories hanging.
|Wednesday, July 14th, 2010|
Not much of an entry today, just a brief news item that brings joy to my face. The Westboro Baptist Church, headed by notorious bigot Fred Phelps, will be picketing the San Diego Comic Con. http://wbx.me/l/?p=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.comicmix.com%2Fnews%2F2010%2F07%2F10%2Fnotorious-bigots-to-picket-san-diego-comic-con%2F
Why does this make me smile? Because they have no idea what they're getting into. Cosplayers and other people will be posing with them. The insults will be flying fast and furious, and I can see where some people will see just how much abuse the Phelps clan can take before they decide to go home. Not physical abuse, mind you. But the male cosplayers who dress up like women could make them extremely uncomfortable. I really should go to San Diego just to see how it will play out.
|Monday, July 12th, 2010|
Okay, this could have been about any one of a number of things, none of which are coming to mind at this point. I suppose the one good thing is that I have lost a pound since last week, which I seem to have promptly tossed away by eating guacamole, which I foolishly convinced myself was heart-healthy instead of a snack food.
I've been trying to figure out how to edit a story, and at this point I'm having no luck. I think I know where it needs to go, but I'm starting to run out of steam, and I'm wondering if I should just wrap up this draft and save it for the next, or if I should concentrate on it now. I'm really not sure. Maybe I'll sleep on it and try to get a piece of flash fiction done. I've got a couple of very dark stories, but I have noticed that at least one is based on a thing that irked me back when the Harry Potter books were coming out and how some people would spoil the ending of them as a practical joke. I've come up with a great Twilight Zone-esque ending.
Picked up the Rush CD 2112, which was nice to listen to. I also picked up, used, the first season DVD set of the TV show Castle. It's a nice thing to dream about achieving the level of success the writer does, if nothing else. :)
|Not much of an entry today.
Ironed shirts. Got the oil changed. Went running. Hopefully didn't destroy my lower legs in the process.