Works of fiction appearing here are © 2011-2017 by Jack H. Tyler, and are not to be assumed to lie in the public domain.
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sorting through the Chaos

          "One hates an author that's all author."
     ~ LORD BYRON

          And yet...   And yet, in the face of such wisdom, this is what I strive to be.
          I've been having some indecisiveness lately over whether I want to be a writer any more.  So I took yesterday off.  Just, off.  There are a number of things I do regularly on Saturday.  I most generally write at least one review on writing.com, as well as promoting my group, the Punk Fiction Library.  I also post links to the most recently active of my friends' blogs and pages on a daily basis, and I also routinely share a few items on Facebook, and comment on at least a half-dozen posts, and often many more.  Yesterday I did none of those things, and as nearly as I can tell, nobody even noticed!  For a certainty, no one commented.
          But the reality of it came home to me in the wee hours of this morning.  I couldn't get to sleep last night.  I tried.  I laid in bed for an hour and studied the ceiling, the night light, and listened to the little owl that lives outside my window, and I finally gave it up.  Taking my own advice that I give when this happens to my wife, I got up to make use of the time.  Sitting down with no clear plan of what to do, I found myself working on Stingaree.  It flowed so naturally that I actually invented (well, for myself, at least) a new way of outlining that gives me much more flexibility than my old notebook method.  But that's neither here nor there; the point is that I want to write.
          I've been thinking about this turn of affairs, and what I've come to believe is that what I don't want to do is all those things I've obligated myself to over months and years, one little thing here, another little thing there, until all those little drops have added up to a sea.  A sea of groups, forums, and social media that consume my writing time.  I wake up early now that I'm retired.  Don't know why.  Maybe it's because there's nothing to dread after I wake, I don't know, but I have the house to myself for two-to-three hours when I first get up, and that is time that I want to write.
          But I have these other demands.  I established a Facebook group, the Punk Fiction Authors Guild.  It exists to help all its members, 25 right now, down from 31, and this means reposting their promotional material everywhere I frequent.  Time off of my three hours.  My daily scouring of friends' pages, then copying and pasting the links on writing.com.  More time.  Reviewing.  Promoting and maintaining The Punk Fiction Library and Twenty-Five Words or Less.  All time deducted from that immutable three hours.  This blog.  Riding the Blimp, my writing.com blog.  Who knows what I'm forgetting in my sleep-deprived state?
          The point is that I have dug a crater with a teaspoon, and now I can barely see over the edge.  The next thing I have to do in my writing life is to decide whether I'm going to be a writer, or a social media gadfly, posting, commenting, and pontificating on what it's like to be the writer that I'm not any more.  I guess you can tell from the tone which way I'm going to go, so let me stipulate what you will and will not be seeing going forward.
          First of all, I will maintain everything I've started to benefit others.  This specifically means the two groups and the forum that were mentioned above.  I will maintain them.  Don't look for me to be hanging out there every day, and commenting on everything that passes the gate.  That isn't likely to continue.  Reviewing and critiquing the work of others helps me keep my own style in focus, so I will continue to perform all my writing.com reviews on the weekends.  There is one friend for whom I have agreed to critique her entries for a contest that is testing her skills over the next twelve weeks: I'm in.  When I give my word, I keep it.  Riding the Blimp will continue to appear each Monday, as preparing that helps me examine my Craft and I believe makes me a better writer.  This blog I will continue to service when I think I have something to say, as I have done here.
          And that's it!  Don't expect to see me all over Facebook or any of the other social media sites on a daily basis.  I'll check out the things I started, and if they're running smoothly, I'll be moving on.  What you will get in return is better, and more writing from me on such projects as Stingaree, The Darklighters, and The Nexus Chronicles.  They will be offered up on writing.com for everyone's entertainment and opinions, and I hope you offer up those comments, because feedback makes you better at everything, and that includes writing.
          And on that note, I'm going to start my day, probably with a several-hour nap.  Some of the grandkids will be over today, and I'll be engaging with them when I get up, so probably the next thing you see from me will be my Riding the Blimp blog on writing.com.  I'll put up a link when that's done, and Tuesday I'll be launching back into Stingaree; that's been under construction for far too long!
          Until we meet again, play nice, watch out for one another, and above all else, get out there and live life like you mean it!

~   Jack

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Saving a Carnivore, Part II

          Okay, I am back from my appointment, and as anyone who knows me already knows, there were problems.  They used the home version of the traction machine to stretch my neck today, and trained my daughter and me on its use, but they want to do another week of observation before they actually let me take it home.  That's all right, I can live with that, but we're here, of course, to talk about my little bug-eating plant...  There were problems.
          The lousy soil these things live in in the wild is approximated by a 50-50 mix of peat moss and perlite.  We stopped on the way home only to find that both these items are sold in 2-liter bags, one of which retails for $9.95, and the other for $6.95.  $17.00 and tax seems a little steep to provide life support for a $3.00 plant, so it was determined to work with what we have for now.
          The first thing I did when I got home was to get him out of his mailing tube and trim the dead bits; there will always be some after shipping.  With that done, he looked much happier, even being in his little plastic pot, which is a good thing, because he's going to be there for a while.  He does have plenty of healthy traps, and by happy coincidence, we have plenty of healthy fruit flies this fine summer season.  What we need to do is introduce the two, and that seems as easy as bringing them together.
          The next issue is the terrarium globe that I have available.  Due to the height of the pot, it is, at five inches, just a speck too small for him to spread out in comfort, and you will see in the picture that the tallest stalks inside are touching the roof.  I'm not about to mess with the pot, and the soil provided by the original seller, so the globe will have to be replaced with a larger one.  I'm thinking an eight-inch to allow room for him to grow.  I have a birthday coming up in just over three weeks, and I added a globe to my wish list.  I'm thinking that will be done, because everyone wants to see this little guy make it.
          In the meantime, I have put the pot in the globe I have, surrounded it with model landscaping material, and hung it under the bar with the open side toward the kitchen.  I fully expect him to be fine until I can get him a bigger house, especially after the flies find him!  Which may have happened already.  Two of the traps are closed.  I can't really tell if there's anything in them, and I don't have an  accurate fly census at this point.  It's possible that I set them off during the move, but I'd swear they were open when I hung him up.
          Anyway, time will tell.  I'm going to do everything in my power to help this little guy thrive, 'cause there's just something about a meat-eating plant that seems to compliment my personality.  You might say that I've found my perfect pet!  I sure hope he makes it.  We have plenty of heat here, which they like, and being this near the ocean, the humidity is high enough most of the time.  Bugs to eat?  Check!  What could go wrong?
          I'll keep you posted.

~ Jack

Saving a Carnivore, Part I

          Today I'm back here to blog.  You may be thinking that I said I wasn't going to do that anymore, but what I said was that there would be no more daily blogs about the minutiae of my writing process; it's time to get this back to its origins, fun stuff that I get up to.
          So, almost two weeks ago my four local grandkids, including second-in-command Venus, were over, and during the course of the day, a bunch of them made a store run.  They returned with a Venus fly trap.  There is some question about whether her dad or her aunt bought it for her, but that isn't the issue; I now have a meat-eating plant living in my house!  What a simply horrid idea, right?
          Actually, deranged Victorian sci-fi lover that I am, I find them amazing, and totally cool.  Venus, though, apparently doesn't share my enthusiasm, for despite several repeat visits since that particular purchase, and being reminded to take it home several times, it is still sitting on my dining room table.  Her dad gave it some tap water (which they apparently hate) yesterday, but it's still here!
          Well, since the thing has been abandoned at my house, I perceive that there is nothing for me to do but adopt it.  As luck would have it, I have a small hanging terrarium bowl whose resident plant died some time ago, and I have never done anything with it.  As Venus fly traps don't get very big, it seems to be a natural fit.  That will have to cleaned up inside and out, and some peat moss and perlite obtained for potting mix.  Oh, and a bit of pea gravel for the bed.  These little monsters have learned to eat bugs because the swampy soil they live in is too poor in nutrients to support a proper plant, and if you want them to do well in a terrarium, those conditions have to be duplicated.  As luck would have it, I have a medical appointment for my pinched nerve today, and there are at least two nurseries between here and the office, so I'll be looking into that.  Once I have this little guy settled into his (her?) new home, I'll post the pictures in Part II.
          Finally, if you'd like to open your own Little Shop of Horrors, this one was born at Rocket Farms, Inc. located at Half Moon Bay, CA.  They may be a wholesale-only seller, but they also may be able to put you onto a local retail outlet.  You can read all about them at http://www.rocketfarms.com/flowers/venus-flytraps
          That's it for now.  Things to do, places to go, you know how it is.  I hope to get our guest situated this afternoon, and Part II will land tonight or tomorrow morning.  Be watching!

~ Jack


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Daily Grind: 12 Sep 17

          "When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation."
                                   ~ JORGE LUIS BORGES

          In my constant bid to streamline my activities, get more use out of my time, and eliminate pointless activities, I am going to stop the daily gabfest here.  I just clicked over to the dashboard and looked at the numbers.  They don't tell me how many people read the words I leave here, only the number who land on the site.  That number wouldn't tax a public restroom, so I'm going to put the time I spend on these daily entries to better use.  If you have a copy of one of my books, and the web address in the foreword has brought you here, you have my thanks, and my welcome.  Follow this link to my new home:


          Likewise, if you are one of the small number who follow my demented ramblings, that's where you will find my public writings in the form of stories, books, a wee bit of poetry, and my weekly blog about the writing Craft, Riding the Blimp.  You will find that there is much more to me over there, so pay me a visit, I'd love to hear from you!  Oh, and take note, membership in writing.com is free, and members at any level have access to much more of my material than a guest on the site.
          And that about wraps it up.  I may still post the occasional item here if the subject matter seems relevant, but anything I do in the way of daily activity will appear there.  Well, I guess that does it.  Hit the link and join the party!

~ Jack

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Daily Grind: 11 Sep 17

          "A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining."
                                   ~ GEORGE W. BUSH

          This is The Day, and before we go further, let's set aside our regional, political, and racial differences and take a moment to remember the victims and the heroes of that fateful day.  I guarantee you that none of the firemen, policemen, and private citizens, some of whom gave the last full measure in those ruins, were looking at skin color or asking about someone's political leanings before pulling them out and heading for the exit.  Is that what it takes for us to come together?

          Moving on to news of the writer, not much is going on today.  I've designated Mondays as a day away from writing, a day when I catch my breath and refocus my thoughts before launching into a writing binge from Tuesday through Friday.  I write a blog post on various aspects of The Craft to sort of clear my mind and explore my thoughts in those areas.  Today I looked at using fear to enrich characters.  Come have a read if that sounds interesting.
          Tomorrow, I'm going to throw away my outline for the last half of Stingaree, and rewrite it from scratch.   I read somewhere that when a book seems to write itself, that is a dangerous indication that you are piling cliche on cliche, taking the easy solution to every question, and writing what will be a transparent and predictable plot.  That is what has happened with Stingaree; I hereby promise that no matter what happens with my writing down the road, Stingaree will be finished, and it will be the best product I can produce.  It may take a while longer, but I think it will be worth the wait.

Friends in the Biz


          Let's start with a big party.  Our favorite little steampunk elf Stephanie Kato attended the Long Beach Comic Con, and took a few pictures while she was there.  I didn't count, but she says there are over sixty.  A fun read indeed!
          William Jackson returns with Episode Three of his Atoms and Shadows movie review series, and believe me, that is always a ride.
          Immerse or Die looks at A Very Short Collection of Shorts by Rebecca Welch, while David Lee Summers announces upcoming book signings in the southwest this coming weekend.
          Finally, Metapunk has posted a thought-provoking article on how being a Dungeon Master has made him a better teacher.  All of these items are worth you while, so it looks like you've got some reading to do!
          Play nice, look out for one another, and above all, keep safe, and I'll see you back here same time (more or less) tomorrow.

~ Jack