Attacking Your Brain With A Q-Tip…

…through your ears.

It’s been…hard to write. I don’t know how it is for other people, but looking for work is like dating for me. I hate the process of dating, especially the first few dates, because…you don’t know. You don’t know what works, what doesn’t work, what thing that you think is normal and expected won’t end everything right there. And…you’re left hanging for hours, days, weeks…and wondering if you should try something else and what you did wrong…

And, job fairs are even worse. It’s like speed dating, but with more possibilities of things going wrong.

Yes, it’s been hard to get anything done that hasn’t been job-hunting or psychological/social survival.

At the very least, I’m probably up one Taco Bell meal in sales of Solist At Large, so that’s something. (And, waiting for the day that I can measure my sales in something a little more substantive than that.)

Hopefully happier news coming up. Fingers crossed.

Sometimes, It’s Not Even Worth Being Angry

So, 90% of the time, I like fireworks. I love fireworks. I think they’re fun, even when they’re up close. And, after the last two years, I could use a good fireworks display. I wasn’t a fan of the idea that they were canceled this year. I understand the reasoning-the hills are dry as hell and a proper grass/forest fire is something that we don’t need right now. But, I would have preferred an official fireworks program with lots of firefighters ready just in case to the remaining 10% of when fireworks are used.

Then, we have that 9% of the time when I don’t like fireworks. Usually because said fireworks are going off very nearby, often are illegal fireworks, usually late into the night, and I have this feeling that I’m going to be the one that has to clean things up when something goes terribly wrong. Our local idiots tend to like big fireworks and the worst local idiot lives next door, his roof-replacement project has been going on in fits and starts for nearly a year and it’s all bare and new plywood now. Not even roof shingles, just plywood.

Finally, we get to the 1%. Where they check off all the previous issues, and turn things up to eleven.

Very nearby? Oh yes. Nearby idiot wasn’t setting stuff off, but there was at least some going off a block away.
Illegal fireworks? You can’t even get “safe and sane” fireworks in about a hundred miles of here. Maybe a hundred and fifty.
Having to clean up? Our dog was not happy with the fireworks this year. Immediate escape into the kennel all night, didn’t do well until 1 am, when the last set of fireworks went off.
Big fireworks? Pretty much every hour, on the hour, one of the local idiots set off something two or three blocks away behind the house. Said “something” was big enough to rattle the windows in the house and set off car alarms-in front of the house.

It’s not fun waking up at 1am because something went off that made your body reach for the nearest sharp object. That rush of fear adrenaline that requires you to bring yourself back down, to think because it isn’t where you think you are.

So, I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m frustrated with the issues involved with The Winter Solist, mostly because there’s this one plot point that I can’t seem to quite get resolved. Going to back up and try to work through it again.

And, job hunting. Until I can afford to buy more than a single Taco Bell meal a month on my writing…

Celebrating The Fourth Of July

Just to remind everyone of where I started from…and the world we should have

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

Brain Chugging

I’m really going to have to get more organized in how I write.

Case in point, The Winter Solist A-plot needs things from the B-plot and a bit of the C-plot sets things up for the end of the novel and the main part of the A-plot for A Roman Solist. The C-plot is the entryway into the A-plot for A Roman Solist, and it’s important because we have to introduce at least two or three new characters.

The problem is…I’m having problem getting the plots to synchronize. I’ve had to do a tear-down from about chapter nine or so twice to get to chapter 17. And now I’m stuck at about the half-way point, again. I don’t think I’m going to have to tear it down, but…

I’m going to have to set up one of those plot-tracking spreadsheets for A Roman Solist, and I might have to take a few days with The Winter Solist to try and get it organized as well.

And, I can also see why a lot of authors hate first-person perspective. You have to keep a lot of balls in the air-and a lot of this stuff has to be done in the backstage, because your main character isn’t omniscient. Usually.

Back to the salt mines.

The Danger Of Hope

I’m sitting here, and I’m wondering about hope.

I’m also mildly intoxicated (two beers, but one of them was a 13-14% one that was like drinking cheap cold medication but it was free beer, and free beer is never had at a loss except when you dump the penalty weight), so there’s a certain kind of oddness to the thoughts.

Hopefully, the last sixteen months of quarantine and stay-in-place and “flatten the curve” will be coming to an end. Or at the very least, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a genetically engineered cat bunghole.

Hopefully.

What does this mean for me? Looking for a new job, got a second interview last Thursday and maybe some help to get another job by an “on the job training program” for a second job. My optimism isn’t high in both cases, but I didn’t expect to get a second interview for one job. Who knows at this point and time in my life?

I still have some time on my unemployment, barring something weird happening. But, “something weird happening” has described the last sixteen months for me. Change is always weird. Even change that is welcome and wanted. And, while the jobs that I’m looking for aren’t my ideal jobs, my ideal jobs might only exist in my imagination or in a world two or three generations ago.

Still, hopefully.

Hope is dangerous, isn’t it? I’ve been in relationships that I should have given up on much earlier, because of it. Because of the sunken cost fallacy. Because you hope that next toss of the dice will let you win.

But, still…you have to hope.

The alternatives are not enjoyable. I’ve been the alternatives and they aren’t fun. No thank you.

Writing is going as well as can be expected. I’m doing a bit of a diversion into a short story/novella project that’s set after A Roman Solist and before book #4. Not sure where it’ll go-or if it can go anywhere. But, I need to write it.

Low On Writing Gas

I promise, the worlds “experimental” and “internet” will not show up anywhere but here, in relationship to “gas.”

So, I got a new desk.And, this is a good thing, because my very old desk (nearly…god, almost twenty years old at this point) was a disaster on so many levels. Built for the days when you were lucky if you had a 24″ CRT monitor, it’s two main advantages these days was that it let me put everything on a single cart and move it around. But, no real space for me to work, the keyboard and the mouse were at weird angles, and I was getting eye-strain from where the monitor was, even when I shoved a monitor tray and a phone book or two under the monitor.

Dealing with Wayfair wasn’t fun-took nearly a month for this desk to get here, and they sent a second one today because they had lost the first order. Now, I have to figure out with Wayfair if I have to send the second desk back or I can give it to someone. I hope I can give it to someone, it’s a pretty nice desk.

So, I got a new desk. In theory this would have helped increase my writing output. I’m not shoved into a place where I can’t not see the TV in the family room, and be stuck watching CNN or daytime TV or any number of the things people distract themselves with. Unfortunately, I have a new distraction as well-finding a job. My personal opinion on writing is simple-I’d love to make money at it, but until I do I need to eat and have health insurance and the various medications that keep me from dry-humping Honda Civics. This means I need a job, with health care. Hopefully Kaiser, as Kasier has been decent, as long as you’re proactive.

But, I’m also competing with everybody else that is in much more dire straights than I am, have longer resumes and/or have just gotten out of college in 2020 and 2021, and I’m trying to avoid the Amazon warehouse/heavy duty lifting job thing. So, lots of resumes going out there, lots. I’ve got some time-my unemployment will probably last until the end of September, I have savings, and I know a few places I can purge to reduce my costs even more. They won’t be fun places to purge, but I’ve been trimming stuff down from my life on a steady basis. I’m just lucky that I don’t have any really bad habits like an OnlyFans addiction or such.

This means that my energy levels have gone weird on me. Today, for example, I was good up until 1 PM, then just everything started to drop. There’s things to be done, I know this-but I just couldn’t think of anything to do except take a nap. I need more energy, but the usual ways to get it are not working as they should and I can’t risk burning myself out. And, that’s my excuse for not drinking “forget the water” espresso and being so wired that I can’t think straight.

So, I got a new desk. (Yes, I repeated myself three times.) Next goal is to get a newer and larger monitor. This way, I have more forward “space” to work with. And, I need to stop dealing with Twitter, or at least ration myself more. I don’t have to be on it all the time, but I seem to just find reasons to be there. Being a writer means that you have shitty human contact at times, it’s a very solitary job. And, I’ve spent sixteen months being rather solitary and I am missing human interactions. I used to be able to get most of what I wanted at cons, but no cons for at least another year.

On the writing front…

  • The Winter Solist is coming along. Not as fast as I’d like, but if I was to write as fast as I wanted, John Ringo would be going, “slow down, my friend.” My goal is to be done and published by the end of the year, which will let me work on writing A Solist In Rome and Book 4.
  • Other writing projects have been going in fits and starts. Hopefully will be able to get back to them soon.

But…I still remain optimistic. Because being depressed wouldn’t help me at all.

You Want To Know Why Boys Don’t Read?

Or, “why manga is eating comic book’s lunch.”

Last Monday, I made three big mistakes.

Mistake number one-going to Barnes&Noble. No new books that I wanted to read, period. Oh, they had plenty of new books, even plenty of new books in science fiction and fantasy…but, reading the cover blurbs and a quick glance at the inside of the books made me “nope” away from them with incredible speed. When you can tell how badly they’ve ripped-off plots novels from ten, fifteen years ago (let alone the classics), no. And, not even competent theft, and they were not so much pushing An Agenda as trying to give you An Agenda suppository.

Without lube.

Mistake number two-counting the shelf space for comic books (four shelves, three rows) vs. manga (six shelves, six rows) and YA (five shelves, eight rows). And, looking at what was on the shelves for comic books? If I didn’t already have it, there was nothing there. Any story after about 2017 or so was full of the sort of people that I have made it policy to avoid when I can. They were full of people that seemed to whine about how (insert group here) was keeping them down and you can tell that quite a few of their problems are self-made.

I can’t tell where most of the Marvel or DC trade paperbacks are in terms of continuity. I can’t tell what stories are where, and if I wanted to get an idea, I’d have to look online. In short, for me to figure out what I wanted, I was going to have to put in a great deal of work.

And, the few people I’ve been waiting for with baited breath to see new stuff from? Un-personed due to the #MeToo movement and/or some other reasons. (I miss Warren Ellis and everything I’ve seen suggests that he’s more Clueless Male Nerd Made Good than the actual abusive crap that Joss Whedon did.)

Third mistake? Looking at the stuff on the YA shelves. Out of idle curiosity, I pulled what looked like a half dozen books that were tempting from the spine and color choices (i.e. weren’t pretty princess pink or had titles that instantly turned me off).

And, if you want to know why heterosexual boys don’t read books, I was six for six. I read the first one and glanced at the rest and found a few common traits. Any males in the book that wasn’t gay or weird (not Weird, just weird) was a horrible human being. If they were white, this DOUBLED their sin points. Nominally good male desire, even if expressed poorly and by teenagers that are clueless by default? At best it was sexual harassment, at worse a secret rapist. If you engaged in violence, even in self-defense, you were a terrible person.

From sheer bile fascination, I glanced at a few of the girl YA books. The only one I can remember (I worked backwards to see which boy won), the boy was an Ideal Feminist Male. Sensitive, kind, non-violent, “built women up,” slightly effeminate, had good assets, all of that sort of thing. Only thing he was missing was the integrated chastity cage that he gave his One True Love the key to. And, clearly, he’ll give her his balls when they get married.

I’m not kidding. That subtext was there.

This is disappointing. And, disturbing, in a whole “reading the early diaries of a serial killer” sort of way.

If you wanted to know why Demon Slayer, a fairly middle-of-the-road sh┼Źnen manga series, has outsold the entire US comic book industry…now you know. If you want to know why manga publishers are eating the lunch of DC and Marvel, now you know. There is this massive, untapped market out there full of boys that want good stories. Manga publishers are selling to that audience because they aren’t going to get lectured about how horrible they are. They’re going to be given heroes that might have feet of clay, but stand up regardless.

It’s why girls buy manga as well-no lectures, no “grrl power” entitlement, good stories with what they want to see and read.

(And, a very uncomfortable enjoyment of borderline-abusive to actually abusive relationships, but I’m not sure if it’s what the fandom wants or what they’re being sold and it’s “buy or have nothing to read”…)

Somebody has to be seeing this, other than me. Somebody in the publishing industry, the comic book industry…they have to be seeing this, don’t they?

Why aren’t they doing something about it? There’s a market here, desperate for things to read. Why aren’t they selling to it?

I want to know. No recriminations, no pack drill. I just want to know why.

So, There I Was, No…

I’ve been very, very busy.

Because I need to keep some kind of domestic harmony after finishing my marketing certificate program, I’m looking for a job. Hopefully something better than my last job.

I’ve only done one interview so far in two months of looking…and, I’m waiting for this laugh-track moment. Person at the place I’m interviewing at things I’m overqualified. However, she has a job that they haven’t even posted yet, that they think I would be good at. It would be salaried, I’d make about a third more money, and it would be a bit more interesting of a job. And, I think I would enjoy it.

They told me to check back with them on Friday (I interviewed on Thursday), and Friday they told me that they were considering things and were going to get in touch with me in about two weeks.

I won’t say that I’ve had a lot of bad things in my life, but I’m just worried that this isn’t going to work out and I won’t get the job because some massive form of imposter syndrome hit and I had to prove that I was real to the girl interviewing me.

Fingers crossed.

Getting Close To Done

I have about three more days of classes, then…probably Summer School.

And dealing with the EDD. I was actually able to talk to someone at EDD…who put me on hold for nearly three hours and hung up on me. Which, AFAIK, is something that happens on a regular basis with California EDD. I will have to try calling them on Monday.

I’ve been doing more writing on The Winter Solist and I’ve managed to get past the biggest plot issue that has kept me from finishing the middle third of the novel. I’m almost done with the middle third…which is good news indeed. Hopefully, I’ll have everything done in time for a September/October publication sequence.

And, first week in June, I’ll get some time away from home. Mostly an overnight trip-little bit of shopping, little bit of visiting friends, little bit of wishing the Memorial Day Weekend conventions (FanimeCon, BayCon, and KublaCon) were being held. Yes, I know, virtual conventions for them all…still want to do physical conventions. I miss people, in a positive manner, not a “but I’m working on my aim” sort of way.

Back to writing and editing and being busy.

Every New Beginning

Coming up close to the end of the school year and that’s about two more weeks of classes.

Then, I have to decide in about four weeks if I want to take summer classes or do something with the time off. But, I’ll be getting a new desk by the middle of the month, so hopefully my workspace situation will be better. Or at least not as cramping. And, I’m still not sure how to market my novel, but I will have to think of something.

Then…new job in the near future. Have to get one, because I need to make some money;. Hopefully, it’ll be something that won’t involve the three hour commute to and from San Francisco.

I know I’ll be taking some time off after school is done. The question becomes do I take two days (and do an overnight trip) or three days (and spend two days) off? Not a lot of stuff to do, most of the state is still semi-locked…but I did get my second shot of vaccine and spent a few days being miserable. And, I was miserable for about two days-the first day after the shot, it was pretty much having the flu in all of it’s glory. The second day, not so bad. Then, about two or three days of just being down and lacking energy.

On the writing front-

The Winter Solist has hit another air pocket, but I’m going to write around it and come back to that pocket later. Right now, I’m thinking that’s the best thing. Get the main part of the novel done, then write the little detail bits in later. No release date as of yet, but I hope to have it up and published by the end of the year.

An Ethical Succubus is coming together…slowly. But, surely.

Some of my other story ideas have been harder to write, but I’ve been accumulating notes on all of them.

And, of course, more blog postings. Fingers crossed.