Category Archives: update

Slight Change of Plans

In addition to the book signing on Saturday, there was some other excitement in our world.  My son is in the band, and the Area marching competition was Saturday in Odessa.  It was successful.  For the first time in decades, the band from his high school is going to be competing in the state competition.  It’s just after the World Fantasy Convention, and like the WFC, it’s also in San Antonio.

Because Texas has so many high schools, only half of them are eligible to compete at the state level in any given year.  I don’t understand all the details, but it’s based on the size of the school.  From what I understand (and I may be wrong), 1A, 3A, and 5A compete one year and 2A, 4A, and 6A the next year.  Or something like that.  All I know is  that he only gets two chances to go to state while he’s in high school.

Needless to say, my wife and I will be attending.  Yes, I’m going to come home from San Antonio and return two days later.  Because I need to get a lot of work done in advance of both trips rather than one, I’m going into radio silence on the blog for a bit.  The Halloween reviews will resume in November.  I might post a short item or two while I’m at WFC.  If I don’t, then the after convention report will be delayed by about a week.

Signing at Burrowing Owl Books

Photo: Dallas Bell

So yesterday I headed to Canyon, TX, for a signing at Burrowing Owl Books.  I’d like to thank the proprietor, Dallas Bell, for hosting the event.  I had a great time.  Burrowing Owl Books is a welcoming, cozy place.  I wish it weren’t so far away; it’s the sort of place I would hang out in on a regular basis.  They have a great selection of new and used books; I intend to return when I can spend more time.  The selection of regional books looks especially interesting.

The signing was for Road Kill Volume 2Summer Baker was the other author in attendance.  That’s her on the left in the picture below.  The crusty looking guy next to her is me, in case you were wondering.

Summer Baker (l.) and Your Intrepid Blogger (r.) Photo: Dallas Bell

We were sitting at a table just inside the door.  There had been a hard freeze the night before, but the afternoon had warmed up nicely and the door to the shop was open.  Business was brisk, and the first hour flew by.  While we didn’t sell out, most of the books were gone by the time we were done.  Summer and I signed a some stock for the store.  I don’t know if Burrowing Owl does mail order, but you can contact them and ask.

Summer and I had not met before.  We had a chance to chat a bit during the second hour when things slowed down some.  I found her to be a charming and interesting young lady who is very serious about her writing.  She’s a member of a rather large writer’s group.  If I understood her correctly, this was her first professional sale.  I don’t expect it will be her last.

Everyone seemed pleased with the signing and thought it was a success.  I’d like to thank Dallas again for hosting us.  I had a wonderful time.  If you’re in the area, do stop in.  Burrowing Owl Books is on the square in Canyon.  The square is a groovy place with a great coffee shop (I stopped by before driving home) and a tavern (if I hadn’t been driving) along with some shops I’m sure my wife will want to visit.

 

Rough Week

I’ve got several reviews I’m been intending to write, but this week hasn’t been that week.  I hope to have some up by the end of the weekend.

Monday we got word that one of our graduate students who had left the country to present an invited paper at a conference had been denied readmission.  Our TA assignments were already stretched to the breaking point, and now we have to fill another hole in the schedule.  Then Monday evening a student with an illegally obtained handgun fatally shot a university police officer when he was picked up on a drug related incident.  To top the day off, an acquaintance was killed in a collision that night, leaving a young wife and children.

Tuesday there was a fire in one of the dorms, and yesterday a student with no history of health issues had a major seizure in class.

Not the best week for blogging.  By the time I’ve been able to sit down and write anything, I’ve been to brain dead and fried to put words together.  Hopefully next week will be quieter.

Announcing Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2

I’ve been sitting on this for a while. The official announcement has been made, so I think I can talk about it now.

I’ve got a story in the forthcoming Road Kill Vol. 2.  You may have remembered I reviewed the first volume last year.

The launch date is October 21. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to make the launch party. It’s on the opposite side of the state.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Texas, you can drive all day and never leave the state.

Anyway, I’m very pleased and honored to have been included in this book.  I’ll post more details when I have them, such as how to get a copy for your very own.

To Book the Face or Not?

I don’t do Facebook. My wiseacre reason for not doing so is that lost friends from high school are lost for a reason and should remain that way. That’s not entirely a joke.

Six or so years ago, I had an account for about a week and quickly deleted it. It kept trying to put me in contact with people who didn’t even rise to the level of lost friends from high school. About a decade and a half ago, I made a joyful noise sang in the choir at the church I attended, which is on the other side of the state (TX) from where I live now. I was flooded with suggestions to send friend requests to a number of people I had known at that time. Several of them were children of a woman in the choir. I had almost no contact with them when they were kids, didn’t really know them then, and had had no interactions with them since I’d moved. I found the whole situation a bit creepy. Send friend requests to kids I barely knew a decade previously? No thanks.

I deleted the account. Someone later told me that Facebook made friend suggestions based on your email address. Made sense, I guess.

Since then, I’ve from time to time considered getting a new account, one attached to the email address associated with this blog. That email is primarily for writing and blogging activities, not personal things. James Reasoner told me at Armadillocon I’m the only one of the authors he’s published who doesn’t have a Facebook account. Then Charles Gramlich posted earlier today about his experience being off Facebook for a month. His point #8 was about missing calls for submissions from certain markets. That got my attention.

On the other hand, Adrian Simmons, the editor of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, once told me Facebook in some ways is like a nonstop online convention and can be a real time sink. I don’t need another distraction. I have Twitter for that.

So I’m going to throw the question out there. Should I get a Facebook account or not? Will the advantages out weigh the disadvantages? What do you guys think?

Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been rather quiet in this corner of the internet the last few months.  That’s not because I wanted it that way.  Real Life has kept me busy.

But hopefully (crosses fingers, knocks on wood, throws salt over shoulder) that’s going to change.  The first summer session of classes is over, we’re back from vacation, and things should slow down a little bit.  I’m not teaching second summer, so even though I’m still supervising the labs, I should have a bit more free time.  I won’t be attending Armadillocon unless something changes; I can’t justify the expense.  Not with World Fantasy later this year.

I’ll be doing more blogging, although I’m not going to be accepting many review requests.  I’ve got too many books I’ve dropped the ball on that I need to read and review.  Most reviews will be things I’ve read because I’ve wanted to.  There will be some of those within the next few days. Continue reading

End of June Update

Posts have been few and far between lately.  I’m teaching a class during the first summer session that will end next Saturday.  Things should pick up somewhat after that.  We’ve got a family vacation planned later in the summer, but I think I can work around that.  The class I’m teaching isn’t divided into traditional lecture and lab sections.  Rather, it’s an inquiry-based format, meaning its hands-on and interactive.  Or to put it another way, I have to teach it all rather than letting a TA cover the traditional labs.  Rewarding, because I get to know the students better than I do with a large lecture hall; frustrating and tiring because it’s so time consuming.

What little time I’ve had to write has been devoted to trying to get back on a regular schedule for fiction writing.  I’m hoping to have some things ready to publish by the end of the summer.

I’ve got a few titles in the queue for review that I”m doing because I’ve been asked to.  After that, I’ll probably not do too many for a while, although there will be a few exceptions, mainly for friends.  For the most part, any reviews I post going forward will be because I would have read it anyway.

Which begs a question.  I’ve been reading a lot more short fiction these days, when I have time to read, that is.  I’ve got half a dozen active anthologies going, but I’m not reading any of them straight through.  By the time I’m done with one, months could have passed.  Details of the first stories have faded. So the question is:

Should I post about individual stories or not?  This is a serious question; any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Most of my reading this past semester that’s been for fun (as opposed to by request) has been older stuff.  There’s very little new fantasy or science fiction that appeals to me, especially at novel length, that’s coming out of the big publishing houses.  Small publishers and indie press titles being excepted, of course.  So look for a lot more pulp related posts and reviews of older titles that  have been out for a while, “a while” being defined as a few years to decades.  I’ve been REH deficient lately.  It’s like a vitamin deficiency, only worse.

That’s what I’ve been up to.  What about ya’ll?

Summer Schedule

I’ve been kinda busy lately, but I thought I would give a short update.

Last week my son competed in the state solo and ensemble competition.  He didn’t play a solo, but his quartet scored a one.  (For those who don’t know, band scores are like golf scores; lower is better.)  I went along as a sponsor, and since I rode the bus rather than drove myself, I got some reading done.

I’ll try to post reviews soon, but I’ve been devoting what free time I’ve had to fiction writing.  I’ve got three stories in slush piles.  With one exception, which got a very nice rejection of the send-me-something-else variety, all the other stories I sent out earlier this year have placed.  I need to get some more stuff finished and out the door.  I’m hoping things will settle down next week.

Why not this week, you ask.  Summer classes started today, so normally I would be into a routine by the end of the week.  However, this weekend is my annual pilgrimage to the holy land, also know as Robert E. Howard Days.  I’m going down on Thursday afternoon (and in my car since my wife needs hers this weekend.  It will be an adventure.)

So look for a writeup on Howard Days next week.  If I can squeeze in a review before then, I’ll do it.  Otherwise, they’ll hit after I get back.

I Aspire to a State of Burnout…

…because I suspect it might be an improvement.

Things have been pretty hit or miss here at the blog lately.  I managed in the last week to get birthday posts up for Stanley G. Weinbaum, Robert Bloch, and Henry Kuttner, along with a post on a collaboration between Bloch and Kuttner.  Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it.

Things at work have gotten pretty hairy.  My title is Undergraduate Teaching Lab Director, which means I’m in charge of the graduate teaching assistants, come up with lab homework, handle student issues, and such.  My regular job assignment includes teaching one course.  I’m also teaching an additional course as an overload (for which I’m compensated.)

We’ve had a person who sets up and takes down the equipment each week, maintains it, and orders more when we need to buy things.  This is a full time position.  That person recently retired.  Being a state university, we’re subject to the governor’s hiring freeze that was issued earlier this year.  What that means is that I’m picking up most of the slack.  There are a few folks who are helping out, which I greatly appreciate, but for the bulk of the work is on me.

I don’t really mind helping out in the short term.  The hiring freeze extends through August, so I’ve got these responsibilities over the summer.  I’ve been told to expect this to be part of my job going into the fall.  My attitude on that isn’t so positive, but I’ll deal with that at the proper time.

The result is that I’ve fallen behind on blogging commitments.  I promised a review of the latest HFQ and a survey of the works of Nictzin Dyalhis (this is for a paying market).  Those were promised for Spring Break.  That was three weeks ago for those of you who are keeping score.  I also haven’t  forgotten to finish the series on Kuttner’s Baldy stories.  I just haven’t gotten to them yet.  I also need to write reviews of a mystery novel and A. Merritt’s Dwellers in the Mirage.

I’ve managed to get a little fiction writing done.  Not much, but a little.  Hitting a routine before summer classes start might be a bit of a trick because we’ve got four and a half weeks before finals, and each of those weeks has its own unique schedule differences.  I’m not dead yet, although at the end of a few days lately I’ve felt like it.  Most days I’m too tired to write much of anything.  I’m going to try to get some more stories into slush piles.  I was going to try and put together a collection of short stories (horror and dark fantasy), but I’ve still got two to finish and a third to start.  I may try to hit slush piles with some of them instead.

One of the consequences of these extra opportunities responsibilities is a need to manage my time better.  I’ve started cutting back on Twitter and social media.  That will continue.  I’ll be keeping a lower profile, trying to honor my blogging/reviewing commitments, and maintain some level or fiction productivity.  Things may be feast or famine for a bit, but that’s better than nothing.

Spring Has Broke

No, this isn’t about the trees budding leaves and the weeds grass turning green. That happened back in the middle of February. Spring break started today.  I’ll be in the office for part of it.  We’ve had someone who has been responsible for setting up and taking down all the experiments in our introductory labs.  She walked into my office on Tuesday and said, “I thought you should know that I’m retiring at the end of the month”.  I said something nice, but what I was thinking was “…but we still have another four labs to do at the end of the month…”

I’ll be picking up the slack, which means going in on Monday to learn where she stores some stuff and some other details, as well as catching up on a few things that fell between the cracks this past week.  How this is going to shake out over the long term has yet to be determined.  That includes the impact it might have on my writing time.

And speaking of writing, I’m hoping to get some done this next week.  I’m not going to set any goals or make any public announcements until things are finished.  Other than going into work on Monday and getting some yard work done, plus some general straightening and organizing, I plan to read, write, and blog for the next week.