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The Appearance of Hardly Working April 8, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, Time, westerns, writing.
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My accountant used to ask me “Are you still having fun or are you going to get a job?” He was, of course, referring to writing as fun. Compared with another client of his (Ray Hogan, the western writer), it might have seemed as if having fun and not making money was all my life was about.

Maybe so. I could make a lot more money doing other things. If I’d stayed at Sandia Labs I could have retired by now, but as engaging as the research was, it lacked something I found in writing. Not creativity. A lot of that went into the various projects I worked on at Sandia. Rather, it was freedom. I don’t have a schedule. I don’t have a boss (to speak of). I probably work as many hours for a lot less money, but the choice of project is mine, not someone else’s. How much that is worth might not be calculable in dollars.

What I do with this freedom is problematic since it seems so much time is wasted. Or is it? Staring out the window at the snowy mountains actually can be working rather than daydreaming–wait, part of being a writer *is* daydreaming. I’m not daydreaming on someone else’s dime.

The past few days haven’t produced words on the page, but there’s been a lot happening. The Accursed trilogy (and omnibus) is posted on Kindle, with Nook soon to follow. Well, to follow eventually. They are much slower. I have completed two synopses for books and am wrestling with the ending on a short story. While goofing off over on Facebook, I was asked if I wanted to be part of a new sf anthology. The Human Wave idea seems interesting, being mostly what I write (as gloomy as I am in person, I tend not to do gloomy stories–the protagonist wins, usually convincingly. No mere Horatio Alger Jr stories for me, no sir. Win big or sacrifice nobly.) Am rounding up western writers for an autographing at Page One on June 13, which requires some emailing back and forth. So far writers from Hollywood and Tokyo will be there. Since I’m running the front end of this, I suppose you could say an author from Tamale-wood will be there, too.

Did some more Long Ridge work, gearing up for another season of Fantasy Football editing (all four mags are back this year with last year’s strike a dot in the rearview mirror) and am getting ducks in a row for another trip to Oklahoma but not before running the ASFS auction and going to Moriarty for the public library autographing. And there is a science fair judging coming up next week. And checking on how other stories in the Empires of Steam and Rust universe are coming along.

Lots done, no writing. But it *was* writing–business and prep work and bookkeeping rather than book writing. All necessary. But not writing. That starts later today after I get the web site updated and this posted.

I leave you with the Dilbert cartoon.


Clutter January 15, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, movies & TV, Time, web & computers, writing.

Not on my desk, though that is a problem. The cats burrow down and make nests in it, causing dislocations in the strata and making bookkeeping/finding receipts that much harder. No, I am talking about the time nibblers that have consumed the day. Looking back I don’t know where I could have just walked away.

My mail clients refuse to talk to comcast so I can send emails (but I can still receive). It’s worse than I thought. Not a single one of the emails I’ve sent through comcast in the past 8 weeks has actually been delivered. No sign that the email is being rejected–in fact, it comes up saying it has been sent. Only it has not been delivered. I migrated from Thunderbird to Outlook Express, thinking this worked. Nope. Tried another client called Pegasus. It at least gives me an error msg so I know it’s not getting through.

I spent 45 minutes this morning with a comcast tech support guy. Upshot: not our problem, go waste your time with somebody else. Something changed at comcast in December to cause this. I worked a couple hrs and resurrected an old version of Thunderbird (and got my address book and some emails back–the archived email is still lost in the entrails of my ‘puter). It was configured properly but doesn’t work now. Since none of the email clients works, that means something has to be wrong at the funnel, meaning comcast. Help!

That chewed up several hours. Then Scott Phillips asked if I had put Stink of Flesh in ebook on the Kindle. For some reason I hadn’t. Took me a couple hrs prepping it and getting it posted, only to have Amazon come back and ask if I am the author since they assume I have stolen it. The print copy has been for sale on Amazon since August of ’05, but the ebook is suspect with all the same info. This is more time wasted.

Got the website updated late. Need to take out the trash. Been caught in a barrage of schedulings for the coming week. It is 6pm and I haven’t written a single word today (and I kinda wanted to see the season finale on Hell on Wheels–that might get postponed.)

So my life is cluttered and ducks have nibbled away at my time and with little progress on my part. But if you want a real blog, tomorrow I’m guestblogging at Write Well, Sell to Write. How to do dynamite first sentences (that ole hook everyone talks about–what to look for, what to avoid). Check it out. Let me know what you think.

Time Efficiency January 3, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, ideas, inventions, iPad, iPhone, Time, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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All a writer has is time. I suppose this is a subset of time being all anyone has in life. How do you fill it? With stuff you enjoy or stuff you hate? This economy makes it likely a job, any job that pays, whether you like it or not, is a precious commodity.

But writers may not be working but are never out of work. We might not get paid, but a lot of people are unemployed. Which would you rather do, write something you don’t get paid for but enjoyed writing or mope around looking for jobs you don’t want on Craig’s List? If the end result is zero money in both cases, I’d prefer the former. In addition to enjoying your time, you have a product that can go up on Kindle/Nook, and all the other usual suspects, and maybe pull in a few dollars that being turned down for interviews won’t get you.

Who knows? Lightning may strike and you’re the new Amanda Hocking. Chances are really good you’re not going to be offered that CEO position at Goldman-Sachs listed in the classifieds.

More than 4 million Kindles were sold over Xmas. That means 4 million more potential markets you can reach with an ebook. Will you? Good luck, but don’t count on it. But that’s a growing market, which is more than you can say about most markets in the US. Better yet, your reach is worldwide. IBM made the prediction (mentioned earlier in this blog) that 80% of everyone *in the world* will have a cell phone in 5 years. That’s almost 6 billion potential readers. Most won’t have any interest, but if a couple dozen out of that audience do, you’re still ahead with your writing rather than futilely looking for a job you will hate.

If you can find a job you love, good on you. But that job might just be writing, and if it is, write. (A nice thing about writing is that you can still hunt for the mind-numbing job and continue to write).

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Forever Fungus October 8, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, geocaching, ideas, inventions, movies & TV, music, sense of wonder, Time, writing.
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Or maybe spores. I didn’t even know there were such things as bacterial spores. But the time capsule from the old Bellevue Hospital has a test tube full of them. But what are they? Gee, have we seen this sci-fi movie a millions time over? But this is real life.

I have always been fascinated with the notion of time capsules and what they pass along to the future. Big things (or things that become big) are never really included because the society will move those right along without help, thank you. And who, other than Steve Jobs, is able to look at something and know it will be bigtime? So the trivial is placed in the capsules for the most part which might be the best possible things to include. These give clues as to ordinary life that likely never gets recorded because, at the time, it is too trivial to even notice, and a chance for ordinary folks to have some fun.

Time capsule time: what would you put in one being buried today? What book or techno gadget or item ought to go inside? Newspapers might be interesting, not for the news but because by the time the capsule is opened nobody will have seen one. But putting in a CD or iPod loaded with music is likely to be a losing proposition. Think how computers have changed in the last 30 years. If I found a 3.5″ floppy from my old Apple ][e, I couldn’t read it. I suppose old Apple drives are around that could read it but the technology would have to be reinvented, whether our next door neighbors in 2111 are ready to flit off to Alpha Centauri for a well deserved vacation or Neanderthals more interest in painting their brand new cave wall.

Print books last centuries. Ebooks don’t. What good would a cell phone or digital camera be? DVDs of movies? The icloud will be long gone, faded into electronic mist and Johnson noise. Unreadable. I think a roll of duct tape might be interesting, even if it would age poorly. Styrofoam packing beads (aka “ghost shit”) reflect a great deal about us. What could we put in to amuse and amaze our ancestors 100 yrs from now? A gold coin? Mostly we have moved on to a culture that’s transient. The 51″ TV ain’t gonna fit (or work). How do you roll up a URL to display then? A set of Wikipedias? Would a Kindle maintain its e-ink page over 100 years? As my dad used to say, “You can’t beat a drum for a Christmas present.”

Maybe the Bellevue scientist who put his bacterial spore in the time capsule was right. Communicate by sending a plague forward in time. That’ll show ‘em!

Time (Won’t Let Me) July 31, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, contest, iPad, Time, web & computers, writing.
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All we have in this world is time. That might be why sf time travel stories are popular. How do you get more of it, how do you change bad decisions (so you will get more time to do things you want/should have). Recent reports from Chinese scientists have “proven” time travel is impossible. A lot of this depends on your concept of the universe and what parts of what we “know” is accurate.

Isotropy of space was a postulate to make sense of stuff far away as well as nearby. Quantum entanglement would seem to support this idea but nothing says the laws of physics here are the same as those waaaaay over there.

How to get more time to write is an increasingly burdensome question. I need to do a time/motion study for a week to see how I am wasting time. I used to write far more than I do now. Is the arrow of time piercing my hide? Am I just slowing down or doing something differently? I know I have more demands that are non-writing. The past month has seen me sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms for long hours (reading on the iPad when I could have been home writing) but there might be more to it.

Email takes up an improbable amount of time, even if I just delete most of it. I get several hundred emails a day and follow 5 different newsgroups, including a new one on electronic publishing. Valuable info, but it takes time to scan it, much less think about the heart of the posts.

I don’t do New year’s Resolutions but maybe I ought to try this one now: cut down on web time and increase time at the keyboard. Same old same old, I know, but slow and steady wins the race.

Speaking of such things, here is the logo in the name the critter contest once more. Sorry for the size. Will try to put in a larger b&w one, too. $50 gift certificate to my online store to the winner. Last day for entries is Aug 2 to contest@cenotaphroad.com I’ll run a poll of readers so you can decide what to call…

name the critter

That Was the Year That Was December 31, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, fantasy, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, space, Time, VIPub, web & computers, westerns, writing.
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2011 is slipping away. Some bad, some good, but a year nonetheless that will never return (unless you really believe in time travel).

One high spot was the rise (so to speak) of commercial/private space ventures. NASA has become increasingly irrelevant and serves only to waste our money now. A half billion has to be spent on a canceled project–this was about the cost of the entire SpaceX venture from thought to orbit.

Good ole Guv Bill Richardson decided not to pardon Billy the Kid. He was threatened with lawsuits if he did, which is an interesting possibility for other governmental misfeasance. But an even more intriguing point was made. NM was not a state when Lew Wallace made his promise to pardon the Kid if he ratted out others in a murder trial. Can a state governor keep a territorial governor’s promise? It is all moot since the current guv is outta there in 12 hours.

And the new governor foolishly decided for the first time since 1976 to hold the gubernatorial inaugural outdoors. It is supposed to hit a low temp of 0 (zero) just before the ceremony. High today is Abq is only supposed to be 21 and then it’ll get cold tomorrow. A low of -15 was forecast farther north.

Borders Books is teetering on the brink Time to cut out the middlemen and move over to e-books, especially those from individual authors. Ahem. More than a million words in e-Booknanza is available. Check it out.

There’s a lot of other fine fiction there, sf, fantasy, uncategorizable.

I spent the last couple hours with online editing on a reprint of After the Spell Wars #2: In The Sea Nymph’s Lair. More in the new year on pub date. Both print and electronic.

A tip of the Stetson and a lot of awe directed to James Reasoner for writing more than 6000 pages of ms for 16+ books in 2010. An amazing writer and one whose blog you ought to check out.

Time to bid 2010 adieu and 2011 a loud raspberry! See you then!


More iPaddy Praise November 24, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in gummint, iPad, sci-fi, science fiction, Time, web & computers, writing.
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Or curses, depending since this robs additional time from me. I slowly expand my apps and this time around found the online radio apps. Pandora is pretty cool. Start your own music channel. It picks songs like you used as a kernel and hunts down others similar. Very much wow inducing.

But more so was a $1.99 app tunein-radio that opens up 40k different radio stations. You name it, it’s there. Big deal, you say. Here on Saturdays the UNM football fiasco team takes off syndicated shows I want to listen to. Considering the average loss for the Lobos this year has been a 30 pt spread and this Saturday when taking on the #3 ranked team in the country, it’s likely to be a *lot* more (they lost 72-3 to the #12 ranked team in their opener), I don’t want to listen to the radio. But with the iPad cranking out such an incredible amount of channels, I can find something to listen to. Bob Brinker need no longer be hidden from me behind fake cheers (and if you can’t see the UNM fans wearing paper bags over their heads–really–why bother with standard radio?)

For a lot of reasons, I ended up with a non-subscribed Sirius radio receiver a couple years ago. Every year this time they offer me 2 free weeks. So I listen for 2 free weeks. 5% freebie? Actually paying for the full year doesn’t seem too enticing. And now with the iPad app, there’s no reason to ever consider it. I mean a couple hundred channels vs 40,000? And a lot of those streamed channels don’t have commercials…just odd music or silence. Win, win.

Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame has shown exactly how good the gate rape scanners TSA use are:

On final point is a comment on Kevin Anderson’s blog. He hits the target dead center refuting the oddly pervasive notion that if you work fast, you can’t work well. He does 5 big books a year; I’ve slowed down to 5 small ones a year. Old age is catching up with me, though if I got more work, I’d do it. What struck me right away was the idea that creativity is likely to become bigger and better with practice. Like a muscle? Exercise and work strengthens it?

Back to work. And here’s wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving, whether real meat or tofu.

Daylight Losing Time November 7, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in contest, ideas, nostalgia, Time.
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So why am I still tired when I slept an extra hour? Oh, wait, there really wasn’t an extra hour. And it was merely borrowed from when we went onto DST earlier this year. This is a crazy idea that has outlived its usefulness now that it has destroyed drive-in movies (when the feature starts at 9, you’re going to be out past curfew…)

Ben Franklin was a hale and hearty fellow, well met and all that but his fondness for things French went too far when he came back with the idea for DST. The notion of time zones was instigated by the railroads, and that’s a good thing. Having the country on one giant time zone or each town setting its own standard (Albuquerque it’s 8:30 but across the river in Rio Rancho it’s 9:15? I don’t think so.) is confusing and inefficient, but how about making the entire country into only 3 time zones, East, West and God’s time? Mountain time is something of a ginger-haired stepchild, though seeing 10pm shows come on at 9 isn’t that bad. Our eleven o’clock news airs at 10.

And on other things time-ish, the wrist watch makers are realizing fewer people wear ‘em these days. They use their cell phones. Trying to convince everyone a wrist watch is now a fashion accessory is going to hurt because I can’t afford a Rolex. And that wrist watch is something of a memory for me. I got my first watch in the 6th grade–it was some kind of “I’m grown up” moment. Of course, I smashed the crystal before a week was out. I think I fell off my bike (which happened a lot–the bike was a hand me down and weighed more than I did, not to mention being about 6″ too big)

This was posed to me a while back and today seems a good time (ahem) to trot it back out. How many clocks are there in your house? Wrist watches, timers, VCRs/TiVos, computers, clocks, every last ticking one of them? In my office alone are 9. In the kitchen? 4. And so on. A lot. I like atomic clocks and have 2 standalones (don’t count the computers) as well as my wristwatch.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

How’s your NaNoWriMo coming along? Time is running out.