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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Killashandrea Rhee has stopped singing.

Anne McCaffrey left us on November 23, 2011 at age 85.
When I started to read prolifically in junior high school like most boys at that time who grew up on Saturday afternoons watching Science Fiction Thriller movies. I was natural I'd start reading sf. Isaac Asimov, Rober Heinlien, Poul Anderson, Harlan Ellison, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey.
She wrote hard scienc fiction like her Crystal Singer series and Ship Who Sang then incoroporated it into fantasy with her Dragon rider stories. In 1986 she was one of the few writers in this genre that hit it big on the New York Times best seller list with the third book in her Dragon Riders series: The White Dragon.
I read the novella that was later turned into the first novel: Dragon Flight in an anthology of Hugo Award Winning Stories. (Hugo's are the top awards for sf & fantasy) What was fascinating about the dragons in her stories is they imprint and are linked telepathically to their riders. This makes the dragons equal characters with their riders. It is a total bafflement to me and I'm sure many of her fans why none of her stories have been turned into film. CG technology has been up to the task for at least ten years and I've seen numerous movies with lesser dragons than and stories than hers.
I joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club and picked up about six books a year for nearly ten years through them. I dropped the club in the mid 80's because they stopped having books that were sf being mostly sword and sorcery. I fell in love with her Fire Lizards. A subset of the planet Pern where these stories are set in the Harper Hall books dealing with a young haper (singer) named Mennoly who imprints a clutch of fire lizards. After I read the first of these books Dragon Singer I gave it to Penni, who was in high school at the time, and the first thing she said after reading it was, "I want a fire lizard."
When I married decades ago I read all these stories to my wife. Reading to each other helps keep us close. The Crystal Singer stories with Killashandra Rhee were her favorites.
Notice how singing is so integral to her stories? It's not often any writer adds the importance of music to their make believe worlds.
Teaching 7th grade English I aquired a classroom set of Dragon Flight, and not all the students liked it, but I'm hoping I made a few of them Dragon fans.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Soul Searching

Since I've started e-publishing I had like most writers lots of stuff gathering dust that they'd written, but either never got around to finishing or thought it wasn't good enough to send to a publisher. I'd been writing a flash story a day for some time. I'd choose a picture, describe it as practice for my other work. Eventually just describing a face or flowers or scenery became quite dull so I started weaving a quick little story of the picture. The person's expression was where I usually got started, if the person looked happy, why were they happy, satisfied, same thing, anger, sad...
I compiled these stories into three anthologies when I started e-publishing and then started going back and taking some of the flash stories turning them into short stories. I'd turn a 500 or 1,000 word story into a 3,000 to 5,000 word story. One I turned into over 18,000 words.
Most of the pictures I used for these stories I chose from the Playboy Cyber Club. Out of 30 pictures of a model only about 10 show nudity. They usually have a glamour shot of the model's face and many of those were my inspiration. If you can describe a person's face you can describe just about anything, and the women are gorgeous.
One of the flash stories I developed into a short story turned virulent on me. The characters took me to a place well past the line I thought I could go. There is a thin line between describing the human body in all it's glory and pornography. This story crossed that line and when I'd finished the story the characters wanted a repeat and I wrote a second story and recently a third. By the third story I went as far as I'm willing to go and now it's time to step back, say, "I'm glad I got that out of my system," and pull back.
A friend of mine, who I respect greatly read one of those stories. As a friend he told me how much it troubled him, not because he's prudish, more like giving a drink to an alcoholic.
Optimus: Praetorian Guard is my pride and joy. I don't want what this book and the subsequent sequel tarnished by these characters. I've unpublished them. Yes in this e-publishing world you can unring a bell.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vander's is out

Way back in 1989 on a 286 pc without a hard drive using Bank Street Writer I wrote my first novel over the summer. It was for Ted Turner's Tomorrow awards. The story had to deal with a positive future. I didn' win.
Strangely I kept the story through all the different incarnations of computers and when I started e-publishing last March I dusted it off and have been editing this story. Today I pubished it at Smashwords.com and Amazon.com

Eugene Vanders is an electircal engeneering professor at UNM. He's living a comfortable life with wife and daughter. A student tells the police he's a drug dealer and they raid his house. The new police chief trying to avoid law suits and bad publicity has a standing order that all drug raids produce drugs. They plant cocain in Vander's garage and he is arrested.
While in prison his wife is murdered and daughter commits suicide. Vanders swears that those responsible will pay.
He develops silicon discs that can make anything placed on them fly. The first real magic carpet. He fights with corporations and government to market his invention and revolutionize transportation while getting even with those who set him up. He's torn between seeking revenge and giving forgiveness to rebuild his life with a new wife and step-son.
This story deals with the abuses and problems with our war on drugs which is just as pertinent today as it was twenty years ago. It also is about how difficult it is to market new transportation technology while fighting oil companies, automobile corporations and government regulations. It's positive message is that this technology is possible and it will become reality.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Crazy Year In Writing

A year ago I had a really bad case of something that kept me in bed for nearly the whole month. When whatever it was let go of its grip I needed out of the house, but still wanted to write. My client didn't have much legal work for me so I approached him about using the office for my writing and I'd do a few gofor things as a quid pro quo. He agreed.
I came across an article about Yellowstone being a super volcano that could explode at any time and that it would nearly wipe out mankind when it does. I started a novel with the premise that if we can fly into space, build underwater hotels, survive in the arctic and antarctic that our technology is now capable of meeting even this challenge. I hit 80,000 words starting my story The Fan Plan in 1963, but the back story reaches to 1948 and worked my way up to 1990. I set the eruption around 2017 to 2020. I hit a wall at that point so I put it aside. I finished editing Human Sacrifices which I had worked on for ten years while editing and printondemand publishing: Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I submitted it to Publish America after Anne Littlewolf did a wonderful cover for it, but then discovered the wonderful world of e-publishing. I backed out of the deal with PA and felt a 900lb Gorilla fall off my back.
I published HS and the first 40,000 words of The Fan Plan (up to 1976).
For years I'd been writing descriptive flash stories based on pictures as an exercise. I compiled them into three anthologies and published them.
The very first novel I wrote Vander's Magic Carpet over the summer of 1989 on a 286 pc with monochrome screen on 51/4 inch floppies for Ted Turner's Tomorrow Awards. A 50,000 word piece that didn't win. I discovered that I'd transferred it to 3.25 floppies and then from hard drive to hard drive of numerous computers and still had it. My client looked it over since I start the story with a court case and he gave me advice on how to make it more authentic. I started editing it and then discovered that marketing flying cars around the year 2000, which was the future when written wouldn't sell today with our war on terror. I've put it on the backburner until I have time to edit it more for the present. I think the story will still work.
So projects in the works:
  • Update Vander's Magic Carpet.
  • Finish Fan Plan
  • Research and write sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard
My client suddenly needed me to do some actual work, taking documents to the courthouse, getting ready for a trial, which has been put on indefinite hold, and now that documents are being submitted digitally I scanned his current cases and have just finished scanning all his dormant files. For the past three months I haven't had a lot of time to write. I was also doing 10 hours a week volunteering at a golf course to get free golf. I'm kind of thick at times. After three months I figured 10 hours to golf once a week for free wasn't worth it. That has freed up some time.
With scanner at the ready I've given my card to numerous attorneys and said, "Have scanner will archive." So far no takers, which is good for my writing.
While doing all of the above there was no sense in working on novels. I started looking at some of my flash stories and developed them into short stories. It's been so nice that once I have a 3 to 5 thousand word story done I can post it at Smashwords and Amazon for Kindle. Smashwords then sends them out to Kobo, Nook, Sony or readers can download a HTML or PDF files. I've even been getting royalties. Wow who would have thought it a couple of years ago that the average author could now get royalties instead of rejection letters or be an indentured servant of print on demand!
I'm hoping to have the second part of Fan Plan and Vanders ready for publishing by the end of December so I can get serious about Stephanus (my sequel to Optimus).
That is if my client doesn't tie me up with legal work or I get takers on digitally archiving.
Where's this coming from?  I ran into fellow teachers at a Mickey D's yesterday and they asked if I was getting by on retirement. I handed them my card with pmprescottenterprises.com on it and said, "Check it out and see how I'm doing."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Ethics and Virtue

I'm tying a few scattered thoughts into a thesis so stay with me as I connect the dots.
Point 1:
I recently received a newsletter from Logsdon Theological Seminary tied in with Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene Texas. It was two lectures on T. B. Maston the best know ethics professor in the last century among Southern Baptists. You can listen to the lectures here. The first lecture was a biography and the second on his thoughts. I was very impressed with the summation of Maston's thoughts and will share a few, which I wholeheartedly agree with concerning Christian Ethics.
So what is ethics: the term 'ethics' is singular. Second, ethics has to do with oughtness-with what a person or a group of persons ought to do, with what is right.
Okay, so what should a Christian "ought" to do?
The basic characteristic of the cross-kind-of-life is self-denial or servanthood. Maston wrote: "The first or basic law of life is not self preservation but self-denial and self-sacrifice. This is the 'way of the cross. " He emphasized that the cross involves the crucifixion of self with selfish ambition and purpose because Jesus made clear that the cross calls for selfdenial in the life of the Christian. Maston often quoted Jesus' statement recorded in Matthew 16:24: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me." The first followers of Jesus knew the cross not as jewelry or architectural symbol but as an instrument of suffering and death. They clearly understood Jesus to be calling them to a life of sacrifice and servanthood. (bold emphasis mine). Let me be clear here. This applies to Christians only. I am in no way saying that everyone in the U.S. or the world for that matter should apply their ethics by this standard. However since so much of the Republican party and the Moral Mafia do feel this way, and that they call themselves Christians I feel this should be a standard applied to their thoughts and actions over the last thirty years when they first got in bed with a major political party.

Point 2. Read Paul Krugman today. He had an article concerning people who concider him (Krugman) to be hypocritical because he makes lots of money, but advocates for higher taxes on the rich and a strong social safety net. He ties in Mel Gibson's movie The Patriot and another person's critique of how patriotism wasn't a virtue of the film because the film's hero didn't fight for his country, but only out of revenge for the British attack on his house and family.

So to say what should be obvious but apparently isn’t: supporting policies that are to your personal financial disadvantage isn’t hypocrisy — it’s civic virtue!
But, say the wingnuts, you say that rich people are evil. Actually, no — that’s a right-wing fantasy about what liberals believe. I don’t want to punish the rich, I just want them to pay more taxes. You can favor redistribution without indulging in class hatred; it’s only the defenders of privilege who try to claim otherwise.
Lind’s essay about Mel Gibson ended with concerns that we may have lost the sense of what citizenship and its duties mean. Indeed. If people can’t comprehend what it means to work for larger goals than their own interest, if they actually consider any deviation from self-service somehow a sign of phoniness, we, as a nation, are lost.

Point 3: Cognitive dissonance is believing two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time, and that is what is happening in the Republican party. It's a coalition of different types of conservatives. Social conservatives such as the moral mafia that fight against abortion, same sex marriage, dancing, drinking, breathing, etc. and Physcal conservatives or financial conservatives that are against regulations on big business, taxes and are for wars because they're good for business and deplete the surplus population. The bible for the business crowd is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Ayn Rand's philosophy is 180 degrees opposite of Maston's Ethic.
Atlas Shrugged page 953-4 (paperback 35th anniversary edition)
"'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. 'Sacrifice does not mean the rejection of evil for the sake of the good, but the good for the sake of  the evil. 'Sacrifice' is the surrender of that which you value for that which you don't...
"If you want to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions 'sacrifice' that term brands you as immoral."
Rand has John Galt end her doctoral disseertation on economics by saying page 993:
"You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the start of my battle...
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
If those in business want to live amorally, fine. The only beef I have with them is using pennies out of their pockets to buy congress critters to legislate them Billions of taxpayer money when they don't chip in and help out and get us into needless wars for their profits. That's an economic and political difference.
I have nothing but scorn for the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and the others of the moral mafia who have sold their souls to the crooks for lip service on their pet issues. The physcal conserevatives have stacked the Supreme Court and got what they wanted: Corporations have human rights. Roe v. Wade hasn't been overturned yet, nor will it because the crooks know that once the moral mafia gets what it wants their votes will melt away.
Christians and patriots know that giving is better for those around us and even for our own sense of self-worth. It's what makes us human. Sociopaths are only in it for themselves. Too bad so many of those who claim to be Christians are really sociopaths only interested in the money and power.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Between Cake

Yesterday was daughter's birthday and tomorrow is Grinnygranny and my 33rd anniversary. Had a nice dinner with all the family for daughter. Tomorrow we haven't decided about yet. I might work a little while in the morning if my client has something for me to do, if not we're both free to get away for a few hours.

National advertising and numerous critiques heralded a movie named Anonymous. It deals with the Oxfordian theory of authorship for all the works of Shakespeare. I read a few posts by Michael Prescott (no relation) on his blog a few years back and it peaked my interest. I fall in the catagory of who the bloody hell cares, but thought it would be a nice period piece set in one of my favorite time periods. Guess what. None of the theaters in backwoods New Mexico is showing it. Not happy.

I have a post at the Captain's blog concerning a military approach to economic stimulus.