Monday, November 28, 2011

God Smiles on the Bonnie Isle + Christmas Spirits

I'm trying something new.

I've started a serial story, Christmas Spirits, a DragonEye, PI Christmas mystery.  this is Vern and Sister Grace's first Christmas together, and Grace is having a hard time of it.  to make things worse, a real estate developer wants to buy out their home (and most of the neighborhoods of Territory under eminent domain and turn the whole area into a shopping district.  When a hunted theater starts threatening him, Vern and Grace have to put their feelings aside and solve the mystery before the Ghosts of Christmas become the Angels of Death.

Please check it out at

There are several issues addressed in the story, including caring for the less fortunate.  That's why I'm doing this serial story as a fundraiser.  I'm taking donations for Food for the Poor.  This is a wonderful organization we've given to for years.  During Christmas, they send a catalog of things you can buy in order to help the poor--like baby chicks, school supplies, livestock, even houses.   Won't you help Vern buy a dairy cow for a poor family?

In the meantime, someone sent this to Grace and she thought this is just how the Irish believe the weather should be.

God smiles on the bonnie Isle.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Walter Rauschenbusch

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors  Found on:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fen Sui Kitties

Saw a post on Facebook about how cats naturally gravitate to areas of energy, so we should pay attention to their habits when looking at feng sui of an area, so I thought I'd explore that a little.





oh, noes!

You know, I think maybe feline fung sui differs from humans.  Thanks just the same.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Old Man's Stuck in the Void!

One of the joys of being published and prolific is that you always have something going on.  One of the draw backs is that you sometimes have multiple things happen at once.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."  Riiiight.

Things are going very well for The Old Man in the Void, but I had to take a big break from that this week in order to edit Live and Let Fly, the long-awaited DragonEye, PI novel.  Once again, I have a terrific editor, but she and I went tooth and nail on some items, and are finally "bumping them up the chain," as they say in the military.  I did have fun with some of the revisions, though, even though I was cranky about them.  (She keeps recommending a dart board as therapeutic.  Makes me wonder if she has one with my picture on it. Seriously, we are good friends and have great respect for each others' work, even when we disagree.)  We did have fun with one thing, though.  We'd like you and all your friends to decide on the brand name for an overly sweet, big eyed cat one of my characters likes.  Go to and take the poll.

So, working on L&LF reminded me that I needed a new website, so I decided to use the blogger interface and build one.  When you take the poll, let me know what you think.

Finally, in the DragonEye world, I launched my serial story, "Christmas Spirits."  I'm blogging more on it later, but you can check it out at

So...Old Man in the Void?  NO.  I'm also working on a marketing guide for a publisher.  It's almost done now, but as long as I'm doing that...

I'm about halfway through my marketing newsletter, 30-Mintue Marketer.  Some of you might remember this one from 2010.  Well, I'm brushing it off and trying it in serial on my website.  Starting Jan 1, you'll find it at

So...Old Man in the Void?  NO!  The PR department at the local refinery finally called me, so I'm going to interview him for details so I can finish Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  I really want to submit this to Damnation Books in January.

So, the Old Man is stuck in the Void, literally and literarily, until I catch up on stuff people are expecting of me. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some ideas for economic reform

I’m seeing the debates raging on Facebook and frankly, I’m tired of the “You don’t understand!” going on on both sides.  I think we can agree on a couple of key concepts:

1.       1. People who can work should work
2.       2. People who work should pay a fair share of taxes to help run this nation.
       3.  People who cannot work should be given some help to make it until they are able to get back on their feet.

So, if I were ruling this country (and frankly, I do not want the job with the government in its current state), I would propose the following:
1.      1.  Everyone above poverty level pays a flat tax on all income.  No exemptions. No incentives.  No exceptions (except for 2c).  No graduated rate.
--There would have to be a study to determine proper poverty rate and appropriate flat tax level, but then everyone—whether you earn $20,000/year or $2million/year—pays. 
2.       2.  Everyone who can work but is not employed would report to the welfare office each day for employment.
a.       These people would be given a job commensurate with their skills (Unless enrolling in a federal university to learn a trade or skill –i.e., NOT women’s studies, French Literature, or art history and the like.) These jobs would be everything from road repair to clerking duties as determined by government needs.
b.      These people would work under a supervisor, who would certify at the end of the day that they did an adequate job at work.
c.       These people would be paid a fair day’s wages, tax free (Why?  Because it’s stupid paperwork to have the government give them money and then take it away.)
d.      If you don’t do adequate work, you don’t get paid.
3.       3.  Those who qualify to learn a trade would enroll in a federal university for free and work part time to earn a small stipend.
4.       4.  Those who are unemployed and ill would report to a hospital arm of the welfare office and receive diagnosis and treatment for free.  Those too sick to go will call in for a house call.

This would take a major restructuring of the welfare and tax system.  Jobs will be lost in the change. Others will be created to support the new system—including professional jobs like physicians and professors.  But you know what?  People would work for their money.  Those who can’t work would get care.  Neglected projects like road repair, etc., would get done because the money would go into labor for improvements and not handouts (deserved or not).  People in need would get care.  

I’ve probably oversimplified the whole issue, and I know there’s no way our current congressional system will ever agree to this, but for the record, this is how I feel and what I’d do.  Violent revolution and sniping about the current system will solve nothing.  We need some common sense, a congress that will agree to work together, and a president who doesn’t want to pander to the people, whatever his party, but stand up for the things that make a nation work—people producing and taking responsibility for their own lives, with help only when they truly can’t help themselves.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Infinite Space, Infinite God II Wins an award!

Just got the cool news from Jan Verhoeff that Infinite Space, Infinite God II made the ACE Best Seller of the Month! Their award is based on reader reaction to the nominations, so I'm tickled since I didn't even know about it.

For those who don't know about the book, it's an anthology of 12 science fiction stories with Catholic characters or themes.  However, it's about exploring how faith helps someone become a hero rather than pushing the doctrine.  It's gotten a lot of terrific reviews from Catholics and non-Catholics, and is a great book for folks who like clean science fiction with a unique angle.

Learn more at  and order from Amazon.

Congratulations to all the contributors, and a big thanks to the readers of ACE Writers!

My Novel's Journey: Update on multiple projects

I hope you all enjoyed the book tour stuff.  In the meantime, I had a small break from hard-core writing (insert hysterical laughter here.)  But seriously, I took part in the MuseOnline Conference, did the extreme de-clutter of my house, got a job writing a marketing guide for a publisher, and mapped out a years' worth of writing and marketing classes to teach via  So it was a busy month, but the writing part was small compared to my expressed goal of 2500 words a day.  (Remember that pipe dream from the summer?  Sigh.)  So today, I figured I'd give you an update on all the writing projects in the fire.  If there's a lesson in this today, it's that writing is never just a straight line of one project, then the next, nor is it all about writing.

Live and Let Fly:  This much-awaited Vern novel is finally coming out--April 2012!  This week, I did the first-run of edits.  Looks like my editor and I will be having some deep discussions on what is considered fair use of cultural icons and well-known brands.  I've pulled out my copy of The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook, which isn't quite as helpful as I'd hoped, sadly.  Any other suggestions on information on this would be appreciated.  The goal, of course, isn't to battle with my publisher, whom I dearly love, but to make sure we're all safe from the lawsuit happy and yet aren't going the route of overzealousness.  (About 20 percent of the jokes will die if I have to make all the changes.  Vern is not pleased.)

Live and Let Fly Promotion:  In order to prep for the launch of Live and Let Fly, I've done a few things.  All the DragonEye, PI stories I've written and not yet published have again been sent to magazines.  One came out this month in Residential Aliens.  I'm also revising the DragonEye, PI website.  The original one was done by my good friend, Ann Lewis, but it's just more complex than I feel I need, and I don't want to go through the hassle of finding and buying a new PHP template to make it more readable, so I just went to Blogger.  You can see the strawman here:  Please let me know what you think, what you want to see--and go ahead and follow it, please!  The next DragonEye, PI newsletter is out.  Get it here:  Finally, I'm preparing my serial story, Christmas Spirits, which debuts November 19 at

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator:  I Left My Brains in San Francisco:  This one has been on hold because I need some technical information about oil refineries and would like to actually visit one to make my scenes more realistic.  However, my brother-in-law just moved to a new job, so they are busy house-hunting and getting into the new routine, and the refinery in Salt Lake has not called me back.  I may have to try astral projection!  Anyway, since it has no deadline, it's been languishing while that information avoids me, but once I get it, I will finish it in a couple of weeks, I'm sure.

Discovery and Mind Over Psyche:  Both are still under consideration by their respective publishers.  I try not to check the e-mail 20 times a day hoping to see some word.

The Old Man in the Void:   I have 14,500 words done.  I had a real slowdown as I worked out what it would look, feel and sound like inside the accretion disk of a black hole and inside the hole itself.  It was both exciting and frustrating to have something figured out, then run across a new study that either added significantly to what I had imagined (resulting in tweaks galore) or refuted my theories (which meant rewrite.)  A lot of black hole studies came out this month, or maybe I was just more aware of them.  Of course, my characters are taking liberties with the carefully plotted story, and you know me: I let them, and the story just gets more awesome when they tell it.  Tell you more about that next week, promise.

Marketing and Writing Classes:  Here's my proposed 2012 class schedule to Savvy Authors.  I got a preliminary OK from them, but nothing official yet:

Jan 2-27:  Worldbuilding 101
Feb  1-29: Worldbuilding 201March 19-30  Editing Not for Wimps
April 2-27: Marketing Basics 
May 1-14:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
May 7-25:  Help!  Clutter Has Buried My Writers’ Block!   (I'm thinking of doing this one as a boot camp)
July 9-27: Video Book Trailers 
August 1-21:  Virtual Book Tours 
September 3-21: Torture Your Characters for Fun and Plot-Fit 
October 15-31:  Zombies and Monsters and Pixies—All Mine! 
November 1-21: Developing Character Voice 

Also, for Damnation Books/Eternal Press authors only, I will be teaching quarterly forum classes and hold a monthly chat on marketing.

I'm writing a marketing guide for DB/EP, and am revamping 30-Minute Marketer, which I will offer in serial  to anyone on my website,

Dean Wesley Smith like to compare writing to running a bakery--you have all kinds of products in a bakery, and if you want to succeed, you keep something in the oven while selling the ready stuff.  Here's a little peak into my bakery.  What's yours like?