Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Business Secrets from the Stars

Is one of the books that went up at as an e-book. A fairly long excerpt is posted on that site - something they seem to do for a lot of their e-books.

Reading that excerpt, I find myself feeling again that it's a damned good book and that it should have been the one that did the job for me. Ah, well. It's silly and pointless, of course, to continue mourning a given novel's lack of success.

And I really am largely over that failure, thanks to the passage of time, working on Time and the Soldier, and this blog.

Now if I can just get the damned taxes done, so that I can back to TimeSold.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Central Heat Cover

At least, I think it is. This is the cover of the e-book, which has just shown up on Fictionwise. My other e-books that are for sale there have the same covers as the print editions, so I'm assuming that this the cover of the Central Heat print edition, as well.

Wildside modified it from my original, but I'm happy to admit that they improved on what I sent them. I'm also happy that they kept the nifty background illustration as well as the basic theme from my version.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Close vs. Not Close at All

I just got a rejection for a story, and apparently it was a close thing. The previous rejection for the same story was also close, really close.

Of course it feels better to come close than otherwise. Or does it? Mostly, it does, and yet there's the frustration of thinking that if you had done something ever so slightly differently, the story would have been accepted. (Leaving aside the question of whether you know what that something is - and whether you would want to change the story, even if you did know.)

I was wondering how other people feel. Which do you feel is worse/better: coming close but not making it, or not coming close at all?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mickling and Taxing

I haven't been posting about writing, but I have been writing. Not lots and lots, because I've been working on the taxes.

Our taxes are cumbersome, and every year I let everything slide till close to the deadline, despite promising myself, after filing the taxes, that this year will be different, because this year I'll keep up with the organizing and processing and spreadsheet entering on a weekly, or at least a monthly basis. Well, I've finally learned my lesson. This year will be different. ...

So that takes care of my free evenings. On and off, I've been taking my laptop to work and writing during lunch. The novel has reached the point where that's not so easy to do, though. I don't have large sections to write. Now I'm going through it it and tweaking and adding and subtracting small bits. I find that hard to do at work on the small laptop screen, for some reason. I need to be at home with hours to spend. So that's a bit of a problem, right now.

Also, we'll be going to Baton Rouge over the Easter weekend for a humongous gathering of my wife's family to celebrate my father-in-law's 85th birthday. (For his 80th, we all gathered at a fancy restaurant in New Orleans, but Katrina has changed things.) I might take a laptop, but I doubt if any writing will be accomplished. Maybe a grumpy blog post. On the bright side, seafood! Also, Abita beer, which is not bad at all.

I want to/must get the taxes done before we leave on that trip, and then when we come back, I'll be all freed up of immediate obligations and will be able to dive back in properly. That sounds just a little bit like, "Some day, when I have time, I'm going to write a novel, too." But not really.


David's Definition for the May edition of Community News. I wonder if there'll be negative feedback for this one.


Chickens are nasty creatures. It's no wonder we consider them food instead of pets. They peck at each other, and I'm not talking about a love peck. Under some conditions, such as overcrowding, they may even peck each other to death. If one chicken is injured, the others may peck it to death. Under more normal conditions, they have a social hierarchy, called a pecking order, in which the top chicken pecks any other chicken it wants to, and each chicken pecks the chickens below it and is pecked by those above it. The ones at the bottom can be pecked by any of the others but can never peck back. A husband with a nagging wife can find himself at the bottom rung of his household pecking order -- cowed, dominated, unable to peck back. He is said to be henpecked.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sure, I'll Read and Maybe Blurb Your Novel

And I'd tell you that, if I hadn't deleted your e-mail.

Aargh! It's been a stressful few days, and today was particularly stressful, and I appear to have deleted the e-mail someone sent me asking if I'd be willing to read and possibly blurb his novel. Maybe he reads this blog. Or maybe he'll dismiss me as a stuckup twit who won't even take the time to respond to a polite e-mail request.


Monday, March 19, 2007

More Son News

And this is a followup to the post about my son's recent visit.

Daniel just received the official invitation to the PhD program in bioinformatics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center here in Denver, and he accepted. So he'll be moving back here at the end of the summer and will be in Denver for the next two-three years.

After that, of course, who knows?

If I'm remembering correctly, he got acceptances from Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and the University of Illinois Chicago Circle campus (where his grandfather finished his academic career as head of the English department).

Ancient Engineers

This is sort of a followon post to the one titled "Immense Spans of Time".

One anniversary that I should included in that post is this one: This year marks 40 years since I went to work at NASA in Houston, primarily on the Apollo missions.

I'm on a mailing list for news about people I used to work with at NASA. I was contacted about it, and signed up, quite recently - just in time to start getting e-mails about people being in the hospital or dying. Not from accidents but natural causes, which is to say, old age.

Sometimes there are photos of the people. Oooooold people, impersonating the youngish folks I worked with back then.


I should mention that I was younger than most of my coworkers. I was in my mid- to late-twenties when I worked there, and most of the other people were a few years older than that, with a few as much as ten or twenty years older. So those e-mails are scarcely surprising. But they still make me uncomfortable.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


The way we should all produce, I suppose.

This is the April installment of David's Definitions in Community News:


    A type of restaurant, typically small and with a fairly simple menu and reasonable prices. My Russian teacher in college told us that the word comes from the Russian word bistro, meaning quickly, because Russian soldiers occupying Paris after the defeat of Napoleon used to yell that at the French waiters, who weren’t as easily intimidated as Russian serfs. Bistros evolved to serve the Russians but then became popular with the French, who decided that this Russian idea of fast service and low prices wasn’t such a bad one, after all. I’ve since read that linguists dispute this origin of the word, but it does make a nifty story.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

What writer hasn't been asked that?

You can answer flippantly ("Anonymous e-mails!"). You can stumble around and blather for a while, sounding remarkably confused about the matter. You can say, "From everywhere, from the news, from reading." None of those answers will satisfy the non-writer who asked the question.

And, yes, the questioner is not a writer, although he may think he is. If he were, he'd understand where you get your ideas.

More to the point, he'd understand that that question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what motivates a writer.

A writer isn't someone who wants to have written or someone who is fascinated by the imagined glamor of the writer's life and therefore decides to become one. "Some day, when I have the time, I'm going to write a book." I bet you've heard that one, too. Odds are, people who say that will never write that book. Somehow, they'll never have the time. Or they'll have the time, but when they try writing a book, they'll realize that writing consists of lots of sitting down and, well, writing. It ain't glamor. It's words. Lots of them.

Writers don't decide to become writers and then start searching for ideas. Writers are people who keep getting ideas and feel driven to express them in writing, and so they become writers. The ideas drive the writing, and not the other way around.

Well, that's the way it is for me, anyway. I spent my childhood in a fantasy world - much more interesting than the material world outside my head - and very soon wanted to start writing my daydreams down. Oh, and of course I read oodles, so I knew that you can write your daydreams down and have other people read them. Not that I knew about the nature of the publishing biz, back then. It's surely a good thing that I didn't.

I wrote a longish essay on my Web site about why we write. It's from a different perspective than the above.

Curtains of Spots

In the comments under the Nitpicking post, Lahdeedah mentioned how hard it is to walk up stairs when you're new to the altitude of Colorado's Front Range.

When we moved here from Houston in 1971, I was in my late twenties and had been moderately active - or as active as the ghastly Houston humidity and heat permitted. I considered myself a fairly fit fella. Right after we got here, Leonore and I went to the mountains with a friend. Not very high in the mountains, either. I was overcome with the beauty of it all and went running happily along a trail. Born free! As free as the wind blows! As free as -- In seconds, I was sitting on a convenient large rock (lots of those around), gasping, and watching the curtain of spots waving in front of my eyes. Golly. Fitness is relative, isn't it?

The relationship to writing is a bit tenuous, but it's there. Just like the protagonist of John Denver's great (but often absurdly and unfairly maligned) song, "Rocky Mountain High", I felt freed from my previous life, reborn. I started writing seriously instead of mostly just nattering and whining about it. The following year, my first published short story, "Adam's Servant", appeared in the December 1972 issue of Cavalier, a men's magazine. Brilliant story, of course, but I think they bought it because of the sex. That same issue also contained a short story, "The Mangler", by some kid named Stephen King, who I understand has sold a few more things since then.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


This will be fun.

The editor of a local free magazine, in which Leonore has been publishing articles about exercise and nutrition, asked me to do a monthly, brief definition of a word of phrase, under the heading David's Definitions.

The first one will be in the April issue. Here it is:


    Or nit-picking, or nit picking, or picking nits.

    Nits are lice eggs. In the old days, people used to get rid of lice infestations on their kids' heads by shaving off all the hair and then picking off the nits, so that there wouldn't be another generation of lice. (The parents had to pick the nits off because lice use their saliva to glue their eggs to your scalp. Lice don't find that disgusting.) So nitpicking is looking for tiny details.