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So, my tax man suggests that I keep doing cartoons.

Did you know I was doing cartoons? (I will have mentioned it somewhere -- probably Facebook).

I'd imagined that every penny a cartoon earned would be snapped up by Uncle Sam (long may he reign), but it seems that making a pittance periodically was somehow very astute.

This news has inspired me to dust off my iPad. (I'll try throwing something out there again this week...) The last web-worthy one was up in Suvudu where my work inspired several really creepy robotic replies.

Wish me luck!


Two Minutes to Canada.

It's the 70s. TV has three channels. The kindly folks at the Canadian Wildlife Service want you to know a bit about The Loon, The Woodchuck, The Muskox, The Beaver, etc.. The solution? Grainy little films and a little atmospheric flute.

Please, please watch one. And then watch the other one. You'll know about all you need to know about Canadians in three minutes.


First Draft Woes: Abominating Repetition

I have a mania for certain words that might need to be explored:

Why, for example, would I choose the word "churn" fifteen times in the same
manuscript when "butter" appears only twice?

What is in my head when, of all the words in the language, I use "torrent"
eight times, "cataract" five times, "wrench" twenty-four times? "Twist"
pops up fifty-six times, and "turn" seems to be roughly every second word.

I remember being roundly mocked in a writer's group session years ago for
using the word "abomination" more than once in a single short story. I now
feel that I have moved on. (It shows up twice in this draft despite my best

Worst of all, I've used the word "eye" nearly four hundred times so far
(and I'm not finished).

Sometimes, there is little to be done about repetition. I have, for
example, a mysterious "Whisperer" whispering at people throughout the
novel. (This might possibly be more eerie in the actual text than it
appears here). "Whisper", therefore, appears one hundred and two times. But
what is a fellow to do? Synonyms have their limits. Whisperers have to
whisper. They can only hiss and rustle so often.

Just now, I am doing my best to ignore all of this. If I am ever to finish
this book, I must let the words flow in what might just need to be a
churning torrent until the last wrenching twist.

Yours abominably,


PS: I'm trying something with email, Livejournal and Facebook that just
might break the Hinterweb, so brace yourselves.
Hey there,

To break through a vast wall of procrastination, I spent the summer writing the old fashioned way (pen and ink) and hiding out in odd corners of New York with a pad of paper.

It worked. The simple expedient of running out of the apartment to sit down with a pen short-circuited many of my worst writing habits. I wandered from park to coffee shop to pub to library all around town. I kept up And I filled a pile of paper nearly two inches thick.

Sadly, this has left me with a mountain of semi-coherent scribblings that I am only now wrestling into my favourite word processor.

I am doing rather less typing than you might expect. I've picked up a piece of fantasy-appropriate dictation software which has made the process much more interesting. I train it. It mishears me. I retrain it and read the help files. It laughs and laughs.

The process goes fairly quickly, in truth. In the last few days, I've ploughed through an inch of sprawling text. Tomorrow, I'll take a shot at jabbering my way through August.


PS: I need to make a recording of myself dictating dialogue-heavy sections of text. Victor Borge isn't a patch on me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4qii8S3gw ...

Signing, Mass

My book-signing pen and I are heading to the Nebula weekend in Washington, DC.

This is the big Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) awards weekend. My pen and limber signing arm will make an appearance at this year's mass signing on Friday 20 May from 5:30 to 7PM at the Washington Hilton.

The event is open to the public, I'm told. So, you know. Um. Adoring fans, well, here's your cue.

1919 Connecticut NW, Washington, DC, they tell me.

This is Washington in the District of Columbia not the Washington near British Columbia. District. Not British.

And the Hilton.

I will have a pen. (Did I say that?)


PS: A throng of other writery types will also be there. Follow the link to see more: http://sfscope.com/2011/05/sfwa-announces-nebula-weekend.html

Riverdale Tornado

The toddler and I were hanging out at the old homestead yesterday when it the sky went dark and a lovely horizontal rain lashed the building.

I have now learned that we narrowly avoided the local tornado. (!) Yikes: http://bronx.ny1.com/content/top_stories/122660/riverdale-residents-clean-up-following-tornado

The day before we huddled briefly under a tornado warning.

Enough with the twisters, already. This meant to be a nice neighbourhood.

(Should I be buying the toddler a small perky dog with a name that starts with "T"?)



Giant Hamsters from the Moon, Clearly

Hey folks,

Our ancestors were hamsters.  Clearly.  And possibly aliens.

I ran into an intriguing article (probably only to me) about Ye Older cranes while figuring out how to move a gaggle of characters from here to there (in the days before the elevator): The sky is the limit

I have always been fascinated by standard of ingenuity required of builders before motorized equipment made its appearance.  (There are still people propounding the notion that the easiest way to lift large stones into place was to flag down the saucer people).

And, of course, this ingenuity doesn't quit with the henges and outsized geometric solids of ancient times.

Take a look at how you moved big stones in Shakespeare's lifetime: On the Transportation of the Vatican Obelisk.  It just about turns my head inside out.

A few dozen muskox-sized hamsters and a person could pop up a cathedral in only a century or five.

Yours impressed with the rope and pully set,


The Wilderness Above the Bronx

Writing on the large flat stone above the Bronx was reasonably successful this afternoon. (I had at least one idea that seemed very good at the time -- and I've written it down).

I was, however, gradually surrounded by a cadre of Bronx mountain squirrels.  

They were sly.  I could, at first, see the little creatures in the middle distance doing apparently-natural squirrel things. (Frisking.  Hopping.  Tail fluffing).

Slowly, however, they were closing in.

Little did I comprehend my danger, until one of the little fiends appeared behind me, slinking over  the large flat stone at my back.  And then there were four.  All staring.  Waiting. 

(I do not think they wanted hand-outs.  I had the distinct impression that they were reading my mind).

Also, a foreign youth with bleached hair demanded that that I catch a white dog, should I see it.  He seemed very emotional.  (I am not sure when this standing order expires. He did not say.  I will endeavor to do my best).


Hello! I've Just Found a Lump of Coal

So, I am home writing on a rainy day, but an objective observer might be forgiven for missing the fact.

Someone looking in the peephole would have seen me plotting (with lovely large pads of paper and sophisticated software) and researching (with online Victorian treatises concerning the care and feeding of the Victorian hunting horse) -- though that someone would not have seen me actually grinding away on actual paragraphs.

In my experience, novels benefit greatly from such things as plotting and horse-related research.  This much is inarguably true.  But, in my opinion, what novels really cannot do without are actual paragraphs -- sometimes dozens and dozens of the things.  

(You may begin to see the outline of my problem).

As the inestimable Peter Cooke said of coal-mining:  "You're given complete freedom to do what you like, an absolute free hand, provided you get out a two-ton of coal every day."



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