Dec 162015

WW24-newThe Silly Season is typically identified as a time when news media outlets have little of note to publish or discuss, and so pontificate on frivolous fluff pieces that are regarded as so trivial as to be “silly”.  I think it should be expanded to encompass not just news media, but social media as well.  And nothing seems to bring out the silliness better than politics. It seems to bring out the worst in people.

Nothing seems to be so divisive these days, as the constant self-indulgent and abusive political vitriol that fills our feeds these days.  We have self-appointed “activists” who consider it their goal in life to brow-beat anyone who disagrees with them, ridiculing them as ignorant fools who don’t have enough sense to see the error of their ways.  They claim to be open to honest debate, and back up their beliefs with statistics gathered from “fact checking” websites without bothering to examine the facts and arguments themselves.

This is an issue for both the right, and the left.  Whether it’s abortion, gay rights, gun control, or healthcare, there are arguments on both sides that can be statistically “proven”, even though their conclusions are at direct odds with one another.  One person can go to a “fact checking” website that they use and pull arguments that say that mandated healthcare is saving the nation.  Another can go to another site, and “prove” that it is destroying our economy.  One person can present arguments showing that gun deaths are on the rise, while another can show how they have been dropping for more than a decade.

So what’s the problem?  How can all these arguments be based in fact, yet remain so diametrically opposed to one another?  Could it be that the sources that people use for these arguments have their own political agendas?  Could it be that a fact checking site that has worked closely with a political candidate in the past, might be inclined to support the views of that candidate in the future?  Could a site that is funded by a right- or left-leaning businessman, tend to weigh in on the side of their funding?

But surely not!  After all, facts are facts!  Right?

Well in the immortal words of my old Journalism teacher, “…a meeting is a meeting, but a rendezvous is a whole ‘nother animal.”  In other words, there is a power in how you present things and in the words you use.  I think this lesson is what first taught me to think for myself, and to inherently distrust those who claim to have the “truth”.  It taught me the value of critical thinking and research.  To find the root of a matter for myself, rather than simply accepting that someone else has done a good job of it, and can be trusted to have a proper answer.

It works in writing, and it works in life.

It saddens me that so many people are content with the divisiveness spewed by politicians and activists… content to sit back in their chairs and sling cute little memes at one another.  “Oh, you don’t like The Thing?  Tell me how you fought against it when “your” side was using it!”  I’ve seen so many of those stupid little pictures of Gene Wilder with “arguments” on both sides of the political aisle.  And I have to admit that it pisses me off a little that Gene Wilder’s image, someone who I really like, is now forever tarnished by such childishness.

WW24BSo how about we try something different?  Something less Wilder, and more Wyld Stallyn.  Let’s be excellent to each other.  Because the political idiocy gets us nowhere.  People who are entrenched in their beliefs aren’t going to be swayed by little pictures with clever sayings on them.  And they sure as hell aren’t going to be changed by people screaming at them about how ridiculous their beliefs are.

…And they likely aren’t going to be changed by a little blog post written by yours truly.  So go, have a great day.   Be safe.

I’ll be over here tilting at windmills.

Feb 132013


So it’s been a month since I posted anything here.  Wow!  ?:-)   First of all, I apologize.  I know I told you I would be posting less frequently, but I honestly never intended for it to be a whole month.  Still, it’s been a productive month, so I don’t feel like a complete loser.  There have been the usual issues around the house.  My dad’s been ill, my wife was ill, I was ill… we’ve just been a sickly bunch.  LOL.

But I’ve gotten quite a bit done, too.  I think my word count on Streets of Payne has increased by about 10k words since I last posted.  Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot to do on it, but the end is in sight.  Yay!!  :-D

And I’ve made some decisions with regards to my last post.  You know, the one where I threw in the towel and decided I’m going to quit trying to avoid the political infighting?  Well, rather than let this blog turn into a long diatribe of politics and bickering, I decided I would dust off my old “Sm1ley’s Musings” page and post my rants there.  I’ll link to them from here, but for the most part, this site will continue to be my “business” site, geared specifically to the craft of writing.

And to try to keep on a schedule that lets me write as much as possible, I’m going to try & keep these posts shorter.  The majority of my time needs to remain focused on writing.  As I’ve said before, if I want this to become a career, then I have to approach it in a businesslike fashion.

So, on that note, let’s see… other writing news….

Streets of Payne 06DEC2012

Streets of Payne 06DEC2012

Streets of Payne – I’ve mentioned before that I was having problems with the artist I hired to do the cover art.  I found several months ago that I was far from the only person that was having trouble getting her to respond.  There was an entire thread on Kindleboards with various authors complaining about her lack of response (see “Anyone who bought covers from Ana Fagarazzi heard from her lately?“.  She initially said she’d lost email service and also been involved in a motorcycle accident.  Everyone calmed down, and it appeared for a while that she was getting back into the swing of things.  I was happy to wait because the woman is incredibly talented, and I wasn’t in any big hurry.  But this long journey with her began back in July, and now it’s mid-February.  And once again, she seems to have disappeared.  In December, she sent me the cover you see here.  I was thrilled!  I mean, that is an awesome pice of work.  However, there are two minor changes I needed her to make, and I needed her to send me a licensing agreement so I could legally use the cover.  I emailed her back, thanked her for the great artwork, and asked for the changes and license agreement.  I haven’t heard back from her.  Despite repeated emails and PMs in Facebook, she has refused to respond.  Additionally, I’ve heard from other authors who contracted with her and she’s not responding to them, either.  In one instance, it appears that the cover commissioned by one author was also sold to a second author for use on their book!

So, I can’t use the cover I paid for, I can’t get the artist to respond to any communication, I couldn’t trust her even if she did, and I’m running out of time.  So here is the only look anyone is likely to ever get of the cover I was originally going to use.  And now I have to step back and punt.  I have to find another cover artist and hire them to do a whole new cover from scratch.  And because I had my heart set on the one already done, anything else is going to take me some time to wrap my head around.  It’s just a really frustrating situation.  :struggle:

Half Past Midnight  – Sales have pretty much bottomed out.  Last year was a hell of a year for HPM.  The novel did so much better than I ever thought it would, and I am so grateful to those
of you who helped me with it.  It was my first novel, and I learned a LOT from it.  Honestly, if I had it to do over again, there are several things I would do differently.  But I figure that’s as
it should be.  I will always want to learn more, and I’ll always want to put out the best product I can.  So HPM has taught me a lot, and will serve as a launch pad for another book later this year.  But that’s for later.  :)

Y12 – The sequel to HPM is still in the planning stages, but it keeps interrupting my flow while writing SoP.  I find my conversations with Amber Payne are constantly interrupted by the characters of Y12.  The bad thing is, I’m really fascinated by some of what they want to say, and often follow them off on a tangent, leaving poor Amber hanging in the lurch.  I think maybe progress on SoP is slower than I would like because she’s pissed at me for ignoring her.  ;)

Explorers: Beyond the Horizon – This is the Dead Robots’ Society anthology I was a part of.  I wrote a short story called The Burning Land that was accepted for the book, and I am actually quite proud of it.  In fact, while I had no input into the creation of the anthology other than that one contribution, I really happy with the book as a whole, and am really proud to have been a part of it.  Unfortunately, sales on it have been pretty abysmal.  It’s pretty much what we all expected going in – anthologies as a whole simply don’t generally do well.  It’s a shame because I think that short story is possibly the best thing I’ve written to date.  Enough so that I would like to come back to it in the future to see about further exploring the world in which it takes place.  But that’s for another time.

And for writing news, that’s it – except for this one little teaser…

You may recall that I mentioned that I was going to be working on a collaborative novel with Edward Lorn.  I had it listed on the books as “EBS”.  Well, he and I have decided to table that project indefinitely in favor of another.  The main story line is straight from the twisted depths of Ed’s messed up mind (and I say that with love, E.), but the more we discussed it, the more I got drawn into it.  By the end of our discussion, Ed had convinced me to try my hand at writing something so dark and disturbing that I honestly think this thing may give me trouble sleeping as we write it.  I’ve never written horror before, but this guy has found a story that truly intrigues me.  Yes people, Ed Lorn has pulled me over to the dark side.  We plan to begin work on the novel this summer, and I think we’re probably going to make a teaser announcement soon, so watch for it.

All right, that’s really it now.  For the writing schtuff, anyway.  And if you’re interested in the more personal side of what makes me tick (or drives me crazy), keep an eye open for announcements about posts on my other site, “Sm1ley’s Musings“.  In the meantime, stay safe everyone!

Jan 152013

please-stand-byIt’s been a while, and this post will be a short one.  Part of the reason is that I’m trying to get some writing on Streets of Payne done whenever I have a minute, part of it is because my dad has had some health issues and we’ve been doing what little we can to help out with that, and part of it is because I’ve been struggling with what I want to post about.  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on any of these three excuses, but here are some quick rundowns.

SoP – Basically, I’m pushing a deadline and some internal quandaries on SoP.  I need to get the first draft completed asap, and go back through rewrites to get something halfway presentable to submit to my editor by early April.  That deadline is approaching much faster than I would like, and every word I write here is one less word I have time to write on the book.

My dad – This one isn’t really my story to tell.  Suffice to say, my dad has some health issues and he’s going through some medical procedures.  We help out whenever we can, and that will continue to be a priority in my life.

My personal struggle on what to write about – It’s not that I don’t know what I want to write about.  Quite the opposite, actually.  You see, for the last few years I’ve promised those of you who follow my little mental meanderings that I will avoid discussing political issues.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have political opinions, only that I respect everyone’s right to voice those opinions as they see fit.  However, recently I have seen postings that I feel pretty strongly about, and it has occurred to me that I’m not doing anyone any good by remaining silent.  We’ve all heard the immortal quote from Edmund Burke, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”  Well, I have come to realize that by remaining silent, I am epitomizing that man who does nothing.

There will always be an argument made that what one person wants to do is evil by the definition of another.  I can’t help that.  But I tire of sitting in the background, thinking that I’m going to take the moral high ground, and all the while listening to people berate and ridicule those who have political views that differ from theirs.  We all have our own choices to make with regards to what is right and what is wrong.  But when the voice of reason is becoming increasingly drowned out by emotional beratings, and at times outright lies, it’s time for me to draw my line in the sand.

In short, I am giving everyone fair warning here – I will be breaking my promise.  From this point forward, I will be unapologetically political on my FaceBook postings, and I will address political issues here on my blog anytime I see fit.  I will attempt to do so in a respectful manner (much more so than most of the postings that have bothered me), and I will be happy to entertain differing opinions and debate.  But be forewarned, but I will smash trolls as soon as they appear.

I apologize to those of you who may have thought that my earlier promise was a good thing, or somehow thought highly of me for it.  I just can’t continue to sit back and do nothing while the world goes to hell in a handbasket.

For now, that’s all.  But stand by … shit’s about to get real.

Be safe.

Aug 292012

Yep.  You can tell it’s an election year.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and less tolerant, or if it’s because the stakes are higher.   Maybe it’s just that peoples’ ability to debate issues calmly is becoming a lost art.  All I know is that the political diatribe seems to be worse than usual this time around.  It gets to the point that I sometimes have to unplug, just to get away from the constant vitriol people spew online.

It’s depressing.

I suppose it’s the inevitable result of our “faceless society”.  People seem to think that since they’re online, they are more free to offend without repercussion.  And that really bothers me.  Not that people are passionate about their beliefs.  Passion is a good thing.  People should be passionate about the things that matter to them.  What bothers me is the lack of basic civility lately – a lack of respect for the rights of others to have differing opinions, and a lack of effort to even try to see why someone might hold that different belief.

Now, I’ve promised those of you who pay attention to my ramblings that I will refrain from ever trying to turn my little blog here into a platform for my political beliefs, and I intend to keep that promise.  Some have told me that this is a mistake – that political activism is the right, and almost the duty, of anyone who has a public platform.  I will respectfully disagree.

So don’t think I am stepping across the line of my promise here by simply addressing the issue.  I’m not.  I’m not discussing my political beliefs here.  I’m talking about respecting one another.  You see, I don’t refrain from political or religious discussion out of some fear of debate, or from worry that I will alienate a part of my potential readership.

No, I refrain out of respect for my fellow humanoids.  I don’t jump down someone’s throat when they post some nonsensical urban legend or half-truth as if it were unassailable fact.  You won’t find me railing at someone because they want to require everyone to own a handgun, while I think they should be banned, or conversely because they think assault weapons should be banned when I think there should be no infringement on gun ownership at all.  You won’t find me screaming about what the latest idiot in DC had to say about the idiot across the aisle from him or her.  And you DEFINITELY won’t find me calling you an idiot if you disagree with my opinion.

And I have to say, I lose a little more respect for people each time I see them doing that online.

I have friends on both sides of the aisle, and I respect everyone’s right to their opinion.  I have faith that people will be able to research their views, and derive opinions based on their interpretation of various factors.  And perhaps I’m a bit too naive, but I feel that everyone should strive for a similar acceptance of one another.

Am I promoting censorship?  Of course not!

Well… maybe.

But not in the way most people view it.  I suppose I’m promoting self censorship.  I’m advocating the novel concept of consideration and respect for the thoughts and opinions of others, and for their right to hold their own opinions – even when they are in direct opposition to your own.  Is that really censorship?  I would just call it good manners.

I know many people who speak and/or write using language that most people would find offensive.  I know others who speak and/or write using less “earthy” language, but who still manage to promote an atmosphere of disdain and near hatred for those who disagree.  Edward Lorn is a good friend of mine.  He makes no bones about his language, or his opinions.  He’s one of those “earthy” guys I mentioned.  :)  Ed’s use of the English language will at times singe the eyebrows off the more genteel reader.  But while Ed’s languge might offend some, I think to him, he is just using the tool of his trade to make people think.  I don’t even think he really cares whether or not you agree with him, so long as you think and engage.  And agree with him or not, I have never seen him make any attempt to humiliate or denigrate those who oppose him.

For that matter, he and I disagree on some things at a pretty basic level.

And I value those disagreements as much as I do any other aspect of our friendship.  Because it is our differences that make us who we are.  I don’t want a world full of Jeffs.  I have to tell you, the world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same.  Yeah, I know – you’ve heard that pithy little saying before.  That doesn’t make it any less true.

But at least if we were all the same, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time shaking my head at the useless arguments that keep popping up.  (sigh)

Well, it’s late, and I’m tired.  It’s time to wind this up and settle in for the night.  So let me get as political as I’m willing to get.  I will ask that you do one thing.  The next time you want to post something online for the sole purpose of starting or joining in on another online pissing contest, ask yourself if it is really going to do anyone any good.  If all you’re going to accomplish is to get the people who already agree with you to tell you that they agree, and to get those who disagree with you to tell you they disagree, what have you really accomplished?  Hmmm? ?:-)

All right.  ‘Nuff said.  Stay safe all.  :bye: