What’s Happening in 2015?

I’m not a prophet or a mystic. I don’t do Tarot or have a crystal ball. I can make guesses, both educated and un-educated, but am of the opinion they are generally a waste of time.

So what is on the docket for my little corner of the world? (I’ll leave the rest of the world to the news pundits and those who do have crystal balls).

In January, I’ll be retiring from the day job. Joining the pensioner ranks. And I am going to love it! T minus 17 work days and counting!

In 2015, I’m looking forward to taking a couple of trips. Destination? TBD. I’ve never taken a train trip and would love to try the Amtrak. If any of you have been on Amtrak, please write of your experience. I’ve read it can be quite the adventure.

If I can afford the time and money, I’d like to take a couple weeks off and go on a self-guided silence and solitude retreat. If you’ve never been on one, I heartily recommend it. From my experience, it is the best thing you can do for yourself. The time at the retreat allows one to rest. I mean really rest. Like sleep and just move through the day without that invisible whip cracking over your head. The time with yourself is invaluable in allowing you to get to know who you are. You don’t need to be religious either. Just be breathing and have a desire to get in touch with your innermost core. Or just a desire for some peace and quiet and rest.

I want to set up a regular walking schedule so I can keep my joints limber. Might dust off the bike too. Lots of bike trails in the Twin Cities.

On the writing front, I anticipate:

    • Publishing numbers 3 and 4 of The Rocheport Saga. Maybe number 5 as well. The saga is written. Over 2200 manuscript pages. Just needs typing, editing, and the occasional rewrite to package it into readable installments.
    • Publishing a second Lady Dru novel. Thus far, I have 75 manuscript pages written.
    • Publishing a third Justinia Wright, PI novel. 120 manuscript pages written at this point.
    • Finish a new post-apocalyptic, dystopian series I started this month. The initial 22,000 word novella is typed. I envision a total of 7 books in the series. Some full novel length, some novella length.
    • Looking through the files to see if I have something I might want to dust off and run with for 2016. Truth be told, I have dozens of fragments and dozens more of story ideas I’ve collected over some 30-40 years of being a wannabe writer. I say it again, the Kindle and the iPad are the best things for writers since the invention of ink.

I anticipate a busy, productive, exciting, tranquil, and hopefully prosperous new year. I wish the same for you!

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White Christmas

At least in Minneapolis we’re dreaming of a white Christmas. Unseasonably warm weather and rain have vaporized our snow. NOT that I’m unhappy about it. We had a couple weeks of snow and I’m ready now for spring.

The weather prognosticators tell us very cold weather is headed our way after Christmas. Night temps going below zero. With no snow, that will be hard on the plants.

At times, I wonder what the Advent and Christmas seasons would be like without snow. No chance of even having snow. I’ve visited family at Christmas time who live in no snow zones. The time away from the cold and snow was welcomed. But to live in a place where snow never fell, that’s a sleigh of a different color. Although those family members assure me they don’t miss having to shovel at all.

But with no snow, there would certainly be no frosty cold made moan in the bleak midwinter. Jack Frost wouldn’t be nippin’ at my nose and while the weather outside might be frightful, I wouldn’t be singing, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

The Christmas culture is inextricably tied to snow. Santa may have come one winter in a whirlybird, but it was an experiment that apparently didn’t catch on. His sleigh continues to be the preferred mode of transportation. Although one look out my window and I’m thinking Santa might want to reconsider ditching the whirlybird. Or at least consider using an ATV.

Weather aside, and even religion aside (because the yuletide existed long before Christianity), this time of year is to be with and remember family. Whether actual family or those who are considered family. We humans are social creatures, even the most misanthropic of us. That’s the point of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge becomes “normal” again. Our ability to form large social networks has enabled us to thrive as a species. To the point where we’re endangering the survival of where we live. But that’s the subject of another post.

I wish you all a happy Christmas (in all its symbolic richness) and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. We all want to hope and dream and, with those we love, to see those hopes and dreams come to fruition. May it be so for you and yours.

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What Is Dieselpunk?

What is Dieselpunk? Ask a hundred dieselpunkers and you’ll probably get a hundred answers. I’m a newbie to the genre and in searching the ‘net for answers and reading the literature that is available I found the technical answers somewhat similar, but the literary execution to be anything but. That is perhaps due to the dieselpunk genre being rather new and as yet mostly unformed, in contradistinction to the much more established steampunk.

So what is Dieselpunk? I see the genre as being an attempt to recreate the Zeitgeist of the era spanning from the end of World War I to the end of World War II (and perhaps extending into the ‘50s). This recreation can be either in the time period itself or in a more contemporary era which is heavily influenced by the Zeitgeist and aesthetic of the diesel era. The recreation of the Zeitgeist is accomplished by a revival of the future vision of the people of the diesel era through their science fiction and especially non-fiction visionary writings as found in magazines such as Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Aviation.

In short we could say dieselpunk is the future vision of the people who lived in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s made into reality via fiction.

That vision I see as one which was extremely positive and optimistic regarding what humanity could accomplish. In an era weighed down by a massive depression and an era which struggled to maintain peace, there was incredible hope and optimism. Science would indeed make our lives better and the world a better place in which to live. I find that attitude so very encouraging.

Do you have any thoughts on the Diesel Era and the Dieselpunk genre? Let me know.

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Rational Anarchism

Nearly fifty years ago, a writer by the name of Robert A Heinlein wrote and got published a book entitled, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  One of the principal characters in the novel is Professor Bernardo de la Paz, who describes himself as a “Rational Anarchist”.

What is a Rational Anarchist? Let’s take a look, because the words rational and anarchy seem to be contradictory. A Rational Anarchist:

    • Believes the state, society, and government are concepts which do not exist apart from the physical acts of self-answerable individuals.
    • Believes blame, guilt, responsibility, and answerability makes it impossible for a person to shift, share, or distribute blame.
    • Being rational, the rational anarchist understands not everyone shares his or her views; yet, he or she strives to live perfectly in an imperfect world; completely aware he or she is not capable of achieving perfection.
    • Accepts all rules society deems necessary to secure its freedom and liberty.
    • Is free no matter what the rules are in his or her society. If the rules are tolerable, he or she will tolerate them. If not, the rational anarchist will break them.
    • Is free because the rational anarchist knows only he or she is morally responsible for everything he or she does.

Why do I bring this up?  Because Bill Arthur in The Rocheport Saga tries to create a new world along similar lines. He begins as an anarchistic libertarian, seeking on a societal level to create the ultimate environment for freedom.  Eventually he realizes people are people.  Even after a calamity which wipes out 98 out of every 100 people, those who survive haven’t essentially changed. The survivors are no different than they were before they were survivors. People want freedom, but actually crave security and will sacrifice freedom for security every time they feel insecure.

In the end, Bill Arthur becomes a Rational Anarchist.  He concludes the Stoics were right over 2,000 years ago: all we can ultimately do is control ourselves.

Tell me what you think about freedom and security. Is Bill Arthur right?

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Two New Books Out!

Two new books are now available at Amazon in the Kindle store: The Shining City, the second book in The Rocheport Saga, and Trio in Death-Sharp Minor, the second volume in the Justinia Wright, PI series.

In The Shining City, our intrepid hero, Bill Arthur, must face wars and rumors of wars and continuous obstruction in his path to turn post-apocalyptic Rocheport, Missouri into the shining city on the hill. And he himself finds it is not so easy to live by the Golden Rule he espouses.

Justinia Wright and Harry Wright return in a trio of novellas to tackle and bring to justice those bent on mayhem in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota.  Along the way, the love lives of our heroine and our hero are in for major changes and murder strikes close to home.

Check them out!

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Gestation Period

I’m a late bloomer.  Have been my entire life.  I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.

Festival of Death was my first novel.  I wrote the manuscript over the course of a year.  1989, to be precise.  When finished, I sent off a couple query letters and got my obligatory rejection letters.

Taking a second look at the manuscript, I realized it needed revision.  I was working full time and raising a family.  I put the manuscript in the drawer and turned to poetry.  Less concentrated time investment and more immediate results.

In February of this year I finished a 2200+ page manuscript which is being serialized as The Rocheport Saga.  Book 1, The Morning Star is out and Book 2 will be released shortly.  While researching indie publishing, I cast about for what to write next and decided to pull Festival of Death out of the drawer.

A lot of time had passed between 1989 and 2014.  The story was woefully dated.  Cell phones turned to smart phones were now on the scene.  The Kindle and iPad and iPod were no longer dreams, but ubiquitous realities.  WYSIWYG blogs and websites and indie authors making big bucks were also a reality.  A lot can happen in 25 years — and did!

Most importantly, I’d changed.  I’d matured.  As a person and a writer.  I was an apple ready to pick.

To get back into my PI’s and her assistant’s heads, I wrote 3 novellas.  They’ll be released soon as Trio in Death-Sharp Minor.  Then I went back and completely re-wrote Festival of Death.  The storyline remained the same.  Pretty much everything else changed.

Good things come to those who wait.  A combination of persistence and perseverance is needed to achieve dreams.

Have you dusted off an old manuscript, re-worked it, and sent it forth?  If so, tell us your story.

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Update on KOPN Interview

Due to a mix up in communication, the KOPN interview was taped on Sunday, 30 November.  Apologies to all who may have tuned in to listen.

I’ll post the air date and time when I’m notified.

I can say, it was a lot of fun!

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