Archive for June, 2008

What if I had a Twitter …

“I ranted about this on my LJ a while back–I find it aggravating and pointless reading about the inconsequential minutiae of people’s lives, even people I like. What’s the point?” –Jack Haringa

Mmmm. Snuggle blanket.
I spend way too much time talking to the fish at my job.
The key to eating Total is warm milk and letting it sit for a while.
Losing at Killer Instinct to the six year old.
On my way to church. Again.
I’m blogging.
God save me … I might have to go to a Tweet Up now.
I just had to yell “Quit being so obnoxious with your love” to my son.
Do not make direct eye contact with me until you reach puberty.
I’m clipping my fingernails. And every other toe nail.
I’ve really got to call my mother.
Why am I on Shocklines?
I’m craving BW-3 teriyaki wings.
I’m blogging.
Timmy!
It’s naked daddy time. It’s naked daddy time! Where ya at?
I’m ashy.
Point, shoot, dribble, tuck to the left.
My laptop’s battery is overheating my crotch.
I’m twittering my life rather than living one.
Why, Lord, am I in the Taco Bell drive thru? Hast Thou forsaken me?
Crap! I have 57 hours and 9 minutes available on my DVR.
I’m blogging.
I obviously need more bran in my diet.
And now … a Hypnotiq break.
Something vague which causes all of my Twitter buddies to text me with concern.
Knowing my every movement is relational masturbation.
My, that’s a lot of lint in my belly button.
This has been an hour that I can’t get back.

“Twitter’s minutiae is the logical extension of blogging, social networking and texting. Soon everyone will know what everyone else is doing right this minute, whether it’s tying one’s shoe or eating an orange or being a little sleepy after class. Everyone will know, and no one will care.” –Nick Kaufmann

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Weekend Link Salad Round Up

And here are some blogs which caught my attention over the last week:

Undercover Black Man exposes more political chicanery as an anti-Obama site pretends to be a black power site. Note to all would be political saboteurs: you probably don’t want to register sites in your own/real name.

An ocean separates the issue of diversity on television. Over here we wonder why is TV so white? Whereas over on the BBB, we have execs lamenting that there are too many black and Asian faces on TV.

On the writing front, have you ever read a blog post that not only makes you want to be a better writer, but think more creatively in terms of what it means to even write? And then there’s a blog on posts that draw in more than the usual number of readers to a blog.

On the spiritual front, the question for the day: Is “Christian humanism” a good expression for central themes in the emerging movement? And then there are a few thoughts on James Dobson’s comments on Barack Obama.

In the “feud” between Ice-T and Soulja Boy, game set match to the creators of this video. Speaking of which, here are 25 Things That Killed (and are Still Killing) Urban Music.

And in my continual struggles with BET, we have a new video produced by BET executive Reginald Hudlin whose theme is that “coon-ass rappers” who traffic in negative images are “sellout niggas” who ought to be lynched. Then again, we had the BET Image Awards where Li’l Wayne felt the need to thank God. (Of course, I’m obviously would be in the camp of needing to thank God for His patience with me considering what I write).

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Legends of the Mountain State 2 and Apex Books

Legends of the Mountain State 2 will be out in September 2008. It will be a trade paperback from Woodland Press. The official lineup for this one has been released.

Mark Justice
Jonathan Maberry
Bob Freeman
Lucy A. Snyder
Nate Kenyon
Steven L. Shrewsbury
Michael Laimo
Maurice Broaddus – “A House is Not a Home”
Gary A. Braunbeck
Brian J. Hatcher
Mary SanGiovanni
Rob Darnell
Nate Southard

Apex Books is discounting everything in the store 20% to celebrate four excellent events:

1) The release of Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White & Maurice Broaddus

2) The release of Beauty & Dynamite by Alethea Kontis

3) The release of Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel

4) THE COMPLETION OF OUR WEBHOST MIGRATION!

Just enter the code NEWHOST on checkout to receive your discount. Go to:

http://www.apexbookcompany.com

Speaking of which, here is a blog of nice words from Apex Publisher Jason Sizemore about Alethea Kontis.

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There are worse fates than being unpublished

It frustrates me to see people I know, people who can write, publish so poorly. This isn’t another rant directed at those folks still butthurt over my last rant about self-publishing. There are legitimate times one might consider self-publishing (one of which I’ll mention later).

I’ve checked out several writer’s websites, some friends, some “big talking” folks on message boards or MySpace (you know the ones: “the greatest horror writer of all time”, taking the genre to new heights-types). Your hundreds of stories and poems given away aren’t impressing anyone and aren’t generating the kind of audience momentum you think it might. The promise of exposure is a lie. If a site can’t afford to pay you, the content provider that drives the site, they probably don’t have the money to seriously drum up eyes to the site. (And I question how much the “for the love” sites/markets actually “love” the artists, considering they can usually find the money to pay their host fees, or printers, but not the writers).

The process of being rejected and persevering provides its own lessons. Don’t let your hundreds of credits delude you into believing you’re something that you aren’t. In the rush to be “a writer”, with the accompanying desire for your work to see the light of day as soon as possible, you may have placed it in poor hands. Essentially, you have gone through the pains of childbirth only to give your child to abusive parents. But because you have works available, your ego become puffed up.

In fact, such credits can be detrimental. If you’re building a resume, you pretty much want to put your relevant credits on it. When editors see only a string of crap markets, they can’t help but think you must only write at a crap level. They probably aren’t going to assume that you didn’t know any better than to submit to the worse markets because you bought into the idea of working your way up. Or that you simply lacked faith in your own ability, thus ended up only submitting to bottom rung markets. No, they’re going to guess your relative ability by the types of markets you’ve been in.

Poor publishing includes having your friends publish you or a micropress publish you. It doesn’t matter if a friend publishes you, your wife, or an unproven editor/publisher … it’s all pretty much the same. You get lost in the noise of small press publishing. At this point, if you are determined to go this route, you might as well self-publish. It’s like the thinking begins on the right track: I don’t want to publish myself. I want an editor to validate my writing by accepting it. And then things get derailed and you go with “whoever” accepts you. At least then you get to keep all the proceeds minus your costs.

(My other beef with SOME self-published folks came out recently. On a panel discussion, it was quite evident that the self-published writer involved short circuited his own learning about the business/industry of writing and thus was doling out bad advice.)

Maybe what you’ve written isn’t ready.

And once you work is ready, if you want to build an audience, write well and get published where people will read it.

I have no delusions about where I am in the greater schemes of the writing professional ranks. I’m a complete nobody. Why listen to me? The only thing I’ve tried to do is study how people who I do consider successful have handled their careers and model myself after them (and learn from their mistakes as best I can).

Look, people have the right to sell or give away their stories as they please. No one is infringing on that right. Keep banging your head into a wall, it’s no concern to me. But if you come to me asking what’s the best way for you to climb the ladder of publishing success, I’d say publish well, don’t just publish. Be seen in the right company. Your resume is a reflection of you. I don’t write that many stories and can’t afford to just give them away any old place. You don’t have to be in such a rush to be published that you settle for anywhere. There are worse things in the world than being unpublished. And, frankly, I’d rather be unpublished than published poorly.

I’m an active member of the Horror Writer Association. Still a nobody, it only means that I’ve made at least three professional sales. Bob Weinberg gives this bit of advice to HWA members:

1) If you ask for advice in writing, look carefully at who is giving you advice — i.e. if you are an affiliate member, don’t take advice from affiliate members.

If the sink in your kitchen breaks, you hire a plumber to fix it. You don’t ask your neighbor how to fix it. If you do, you’ll most likely have water all over your floor. Sure, maybe once in years it will turn out that the neighbor knows something about plumbing, but not often. The same is true for writing. If you are not selling stuff, don’t ask for advice how to sell stories from someone who has not sold anything either. Sure, they might be able to write pages and pages of advice how to improve your writing, but if they can’t sell their own work, don’t count on them selling yours. Too often, the people giving the most advice are those who are least qualified to do so.

2. If you want to write a story for an anthology that pays $25 per story, or only pays in royalties, that’s okay. But realize that you are wasting your time because such books will not make your reputation, will not add to your reputation, and will definitely not help your career in any way. If you are an affiliate, you definitely should not be spending any of your time writing for such markets.

simply put, your time is valuable. As a writer, you need to concentrate on writing fiction for the markets that pay well. If you spend most of your time writing for the markets that pay next to nothing (or nothing) you are wasting valuable time you should be writing (or rewriting) stories for the better paying markets.

3. your reputation as a writer depends entirely on what you write. It does not depend on who else is in an anthology.

4. if you are writing and writing and not selling anything, the market is not wrong, the editors are not all wrong. You need to change what you are writing. Good writing sells. Bad writing does not. Simple but true.

There are worse fates that being unpublished. I’d rather have no stories out there than bad ones or good ones buried where no one will see them. Simple but true.

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Kids Art Theology

There are a couple of things my friends have learned about me. One, I tend to pick up stuff that I run across (I don’t care that you might have thrown it away) and two, I’m a bit of a packrat. So I hoard and keep stuff (but stop short of uttering things like “my precious”).

Our children’s ministry kids have been focused on art as a part of creative space summer as well as during the main gathering of the Dwelling Place. I have been fascinated with some of the things they have latched onto during a service.
The Sunday after our Easter/Resurrection Sunday service, I had the kids sit out to see what they took from the service. There were a lot of pictures of Christ on a cross. My son, Reese, had a full crucifixion scene, complete with a weeping Mary and laughing “bad guys”.
And Maggie, daughter of one of our elders, had quite the ornamental cross.
“This is why we make crosses: because he died on a cross” (though I was mildly disconcerted by Emmy, my niece’s, inclusion of savior nipples)

And then she followed it with a picture of Mary (I found it interesting that so many of the kids gravitated to the Mary portion of the Resurrection story). “Jesus got reserected means to me that he went to heaven but is still with us”
During Mo*Con, Alethea Kontis got into the act.
Last Sunday, Maggie came up with quite the profound bit of theology: This is the world in God’s hand. And her hand holds His.

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Jesus Christ is Not a Weapon … Unless it’s a +4 Christ of Ogre-Slaying

And now, a random gmail chat rant brought to you courtesy of John C. Hay:

John: So – is there a parallel between the various editions of D&D; and the schisms in the church? I mean you’ve got 1st edition, it’s esoteric and hard to follow, but it points the way. It’s tied to some older stuff, mostly miniatures wargaming, but tries to give it more meaning.

me: i’ll just give you fair warning now. i’m probably going to blog this.

John: Analog Gamer started the metaphor on accident. I think he fails to realize how appropriate it is. 2nd edition comes along – it says ‘here – this is the truth of it. what we’ve been trying to say all along but it kinda got lost somehow, what with you Monty-Haul gamers. Behold the love of THAC0, your source of solutions. well at least in this one situation. everything else is blind luck really. 3.0 and 3.5 come along, and it’s like the Lutheran schism. Gamers nailed a list of issues to the door of 2.0 and said look is this fun? or is it Creatures and Calculus. 3.5 refines the original 3.0, but schisms off again, streamlining things. Making it more approachable to the masses. And now we have 4.0 coming. this grand fusion with the modern world – computer integration (and the recognition that laptops are part of the gaming table now), simplified, one-system-fits-all rules, and the sort of simplicity that can bring in people off the streets. I can’t decide if I should be horrified at the parallel or burned at the stake for making it.

me: would this be the postmodern edition?

John: either post-modern, or possibly Prosperity Theology. grins Maybe it’s the evangelical movement. it’s finally easy enough that you can bring anyone in to play.

me: bringing the game to the masses

John: but 2.0 is definitely Catholicism. weighty, rule heavy, cumbersome and presided over by Pope Gygax. may he rest in peace.

me: one of us is going to hell.

John: at the very least. of course even playing D&D; makes my soul forfeit. then again – look at how strictly proponents of a particular system cling to it – there are still people who only play 2nd edition … and there’s an army of 3.5 events scheduled for GenCon.

me: and, ironically, i got tired of the constant in-fighting of D&D; and switched to palladium. which got back to the essence of what D&D; was about. as part of my spiritual/D&D; journey, i spent some time with the weird west stuff. which gave me an excuse to do lucien’s module.

John: Nice. I have all his stuff for Mutants and Masterminds. But I’m a fan of Superheroes games.

me: lucien. errant prophet of the D&D; church

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Dobson and Obama


I’ve about had it with some of the Evangelical popes.

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” The main thrust of Sen. Barack Obama’s point was about how to be religious and live out one’s faith in a pluralistic society and do so in a way that respects the views of others. Yet, the James Dobsons of the world, rather than wrestle with this point, have used this as an opportunity to wage war on Obama. Dobson did evangelical Christians, and the country a disservice in misrepresenting the intent of Obama’s comments.

The religious right is at a bit of a crossroads, finding their power and influence waning, their voice soon to be given less of an ear (because, let’s face it, neither Sen. John McCain nor Barack Obama are exactly their poster children). Frankly, I thought the central hypocrisy of the religious right was exposed with Mitt Romney campaign: he WAS their poster child on every issue. However, he was Mormon, so his beliefs couldn’t be trusted.

Of course how we view the Bible is shaped by our times and cultural mores. Folks involved in the slavery debate were so tied to their economic realities, not to mention blinded by their racism, that they simply could not see their way to the Bible clearly. Whose Christianity should have been embraced?

“‘You are the salt of the earth.’” Jesus’ words were recorded in the book of Matthew. Think of the implications of salt when it comes to cooking. When you notice salt in a dish, when something is too salty, it spoils the dish. Salt in small doses is a supportive ingredient, it brings out taste and acts as a preservative. Salt, especially in Jesus’ day, was a commodity. People valued it and used to trade for it. When was the last time you heard anyone describe the church, or its representatives, this way?

Our spiritual lives should be embodied by those who call themselves Christian and lived out according to the mission of helping to redeem creation. James Dobson doesn’t speak for me. Al Sharpton doesn’t speak for me. Jesse Jackson doesn’t speak for me. And it looks like they are speaking for fewer and fewer people.

My Stuff – On George Carlin

I collect a lot of stuff. I’ve cut back since I got married, mostly because my wife is not a fan of my stuff and (especially after a couple of moves) keeps most of my stuff (read: the 10,000+ comic book collection) in the attic. Which reminded me of one of my favorite George Carlin rants:

Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

[500 sets of salt and pepper shakers]

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!

Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore. Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else’s house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff. Somebody else’s stuff is all over the goddamn place! And if you stay overnight, unexpectedly, they give you a little bedroom to sleep in. Bedroom they haven’t used in about eleven years. Someone died in it, eleven years ago. And they haven’t moved any of his stuff! Right next to the bed there’s usually a dresser or a bureau of some kind, and there’s NO ROOM for your stuff on it. Somebody else’s shit is on the dresser.

Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff? God! And you say, “Get that shit offa there and let me put my stuff down!”

Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house. It’s the second version of your stuff. And you’re gonna fly all the way to Honolulu. Gonna go across the continent, across half an ocean to Honolulu. You get down to the hotel room in Honolulu and you open up your suitcase and you put away all your stuff. “Here’s a place here, put a little bit of stuff there, put some stuff here, put some stuff–you put your stuff there, I’ll put some stuff–here’s another place for stuff, look at this, I’ll put some stuff here…” And even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it, you start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you. That’s when your friend calls up from Maui, and says, “Hey, why don’tchya come over to Maui for the weekend and spend a couple of nights over here.”

[Russel Wright American Modern – one of four dinnerware sets I collect]

Oh, no! Now what do I pack? Right, you’ve gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The third version of your house. Just enough stuff to take to Maui for a coupla days. You get over to Maui–I mean you’re really getting extended now, when you think about it. You got stuff ALL the way back on the mainland, you got stuff on another island, you got stuff on this island. I mean, supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain. You get over to your friend’s house on Maui and he gives you a little place to sleep, a little bed right next to his windowsill or something. You put some of your stuff up there. You put your stuff up there. You got your Visine, you got your nail clippers, and you put everything up. It takes about an hour and a half, but after a while you finally feel okay, say, “All right, I got my nail clippers, I must be okay.” That’s when your friend says, “Aaaaay, I think tonight we’ll go over the other side of the island, visit a pal of mine and maybe stay over.”

Aww, no. NOW what do you pack? Right–you gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The fourth version of your house. Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need. Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber and change. Well, only the stuff you HOPE you’re gonna need.

All material written and owned by George Carlin.

Rest in Peace, Brother Carlin.

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Blog Comments

Blog Comments

I’m still getting caught up on life AMC (After Mo*Con). And I’ve been having computer issues.

Some of you have noticed that I turned the comments back on my blogger site. My original thought when I turned them off was that I wanted to drive the conversations from the various places this thing pops up in to a central location, my message board.

Still, as I’ve slowly come to realize, some tribes feel comfortable only on their own turf. Thus myspace folks only comment in myspace. LiveJournal folks only on LJ. And blogger folks on blogger.

But we’ll still be carrying on our conversations on my message board. Probably talking about you there.

Though I’ve undoubtedly missed out on some good conversations, I count on catching up in the long-tail. Yes, party people, the Internet is forever and new folks will always be stumbling over your blog posts.

(It also means that those naked pictures you thought were a great idea to take when you were twenty will still be around for your grand kids to see. Yay Interwebz!!!)

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Mo*Con III.2: God Hates Matt, but Jesus Loves Kelli

Matt Cardin is cursed.

Coming and going, apparently the wrath of God follows. First Mapquest directs him to an airport that doesn’t exist causing him to miss his flight to Mo*Con III. Then storms follow him here preventing both he and Nick Mamatas from departing (though luckily, we had absolutely beautiful weather Saturday which allowed the after party to spread out nicely outdoors).


This led to Mo*Con III.2, the dead dog’s, dead dog party. A couple people called in sick to work, a couple others crashed at my house. Or basically no one wanting to say good-bye, so we made it last as long as possible, even if that meant opting to not go to sleep at all. Let me tell you, nothing will make you feel dumber than being between Nick Mamatas and Matt Cardin while they are going at it about the subjectivity of how we experience reality. Those were probably the last words I understood.

Though I know Kelli is going to blog about it, there’s nothing like seeing the phrase “1 missed call – Jesus” pop up on her cell phone during the spirituality panel. (Luckily, Mr. Gonzalez had very nice things to say about Kelli Dunlap’s forthcoming book)

Seriously, Mo*Con III.2 was among the many highlights of Mo*Con III. I’m still trying to get images of Hurra Torpedo out of my head. How do you explain Mamatas feats of strength in describing Mo*Con?

Here’s a snippet of Mother Grove’s performance (yes, that’s my son’s voice declaring that “daddy’s in the girls bathroom” – for the record, I was fixing the toilet. You know it’s a good party when you have to fix a toilet and I had to fix two: one at my house and one at the church.)

Other Mo*Con III recaps:

PID captures the first hour of our spirituality discussion as a podcast

Mark Rainey’s Mo News Is Good News

Kelli Dunlap’s Mo*Con III and The Softer Side of Mo*Con

Alethea Kontis’ History is Written by the Victors

Jason Sizemore’s Mo*Con III – No Country For Old Men

Bob Freeman posts his survival story

Matt Cardin is Returning from Mo*Con III and resurrecting The Teeming Brain

Dr. Kim Paffenroth is back from Mo*Con

Jerry Gordon’s The Search for Mo

Lucy Snyder’s Mo*Con III Report

Tiffany the Loquacious’ Report

Sara Larson’s Nuff Said

Doug Warrick’s The Road to Mauriclemania

Michelle Pendergrass’ Recap of Sorts

Brian J. Hatcher’s Mo*Con

and faithful assistant Lauren David’s Mo*Con III: Spirituality, Race, and Gee-What-Other-Job-Can-We-Give-Lauren


Dr. Kim Paffenroth sent along this note:

I think I have Maurice’s promo for Mo*Con IV:

– Will the Mo*Conners be able to flee back to their godless, heathen Blue states, escaping the rising deluge sent by a loving God against the God-fearing Red states of the midwest?

– Will Brother Doug and Dr. K-Paff be able to cast out the terrible demon Resiewdub, who has taken over poor Kyle’s body? They will need to make a quest for the world’s largest stick of incense, the sacred mana of Le Chateau Blanc, and the lost manuscript of The Dragoning!

– Can Paul Puglisi make a rock so big Mamatas can’t lift it?

AND

– Will the Sinister Minister recover in time for Sunday’s sermon? Or at least for next Easter?

All these questions and more will be answered, in MO*CON IV – THE RECKONING!!

[Actually, I already have the tentative theme and guest list for next year’s Mo*Con … yeah, I’m getting fired.]

See you next year!

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.