Friday, February 24, 2012

The Almost Good News

For quite a while I've been alluding to the fact that there's some exciting news coming.  Well, it looked that way, but I've been waiting and the good news just didn't quite come about.  Let me tell you what happened.

Back in December, I joined a television program marketing website, which seems to be one of the best ways to get my script for West of the Warlock in front of the right people.  Hollywood executives don't generally look at freelance material, and unless you're connected you don't have many options.  TV Writers Vault is one of the rare exceptions, where unagented, unknown writers can pitch television projects.

There is a membership fee involved, and it was really more than I could afford at the time, but I figured I'd go all-in and see what happened.  It was still a longshot, but if somebody actually looked at my script, I knew they'd be hooked.  That has long been my greatest problem—getting anyone to read my material.  So, I scrounged up the membership fee and put together a fresh pitch for the West of the Warlock television project.  Then, it was all up to the executives.

In mid-January, I got an exciting hit.  An executive over at Cross Genre Entertainment reviewed my project and requested to see my script.  It was thrilling, and seemed like an answered prayer for a time... until they never contacted me!

You see, the way that TV Writers Vault works is, the executives review the pitches, and if they want to see a script they ask the website to send them the writer's contact info, and then they're supposed to contact the writer directly.  Well, for whatever reason, the people at Cross Genre Entertainment never got back to me.  I don't know if they changed their minds, or what.  All I know is that after a month of waiting, they still haven't contacted me (and they're supposed to do that within 3 days of asking for contact info).

It's really a sad situation, but there is still hope that the folks over at CGE will contact me someday.  The worst part of it is not knowing why.  Why didn't they contact me?  Was it all a mistake?  Did they click the wrong button and never want to read my script to begin with?  Did they try phoning me in the middle of the night and I missed the call?  Did they just plain change their minds?  It is a mystery that may never be answered, since according to the TV Writers Vault terms of service I can't contact them unless they contact me (though, I did post a subtle reminder on their facebook page).

This isn't the end, of course.  There are any number of other executives using the TVWV website who might want to give West of the Warlock a chance, and it's always a remote possibility that some producer will read the book and ask about the filming rights on their own.  The script is just waiting to be read, and it could be a major hit for whatever studio has the foresight and fortune to produce it.

Oh, and if any of you run across a television producer who's looking for a truly original show, don't hesitate to mention me by name!  I've got several projects in the sci-fi & fantasy genres just waiting for the right people to bring them to life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Failed Again!

So, another ABNA pitch round has come and gone, and for the third year in a row I find myself cut out of the action at the starting gate.  It's getting to be an all too familiar occurrence, and I've come to accept that getting The Guns of Mars to the semi-finals in ABNA#2 may have been a fluke.

The hardest point of getting bumped during the pitch phase is that you get no feedback whatsoever.  There's no explanation of why your pitch was rejected, so you're left scratching your head.  I guess the people reading the pitches just aren't interested in what I write, for whatever reason.

This year, I had planned to submit "Virtual Domination" into the contest, it being the unpublished 4th volume in the Morgan Asher saga.  However, in the last few days before submitting, I felt my pitch for Virtual Domination wasn't good enough and was certain for rejection.  At the same time, I'd been tinkering with the promo for Prisoner of Time, which I self-published a few years ago, and seeing that the contest accepts self-published books I felt it was my best bet this time around.  In retrospect, I doubt I'd have gotten any farther if I'd gone with my original submission plans, but we'll never know.

Anyway, here's the "pitch" I wrote for Prisoner of Time this year:

A dark entity lurks within a virtual environment, and he's trying to get out. A sorceress hell-bent on revenge inadvertently pits herself against him in her own quest for vengeance, and a jaded hero finds himself caught in the middle of an epic struggle of bad versus evil in "Prisoner of Time."

Morgan Asher hates virtual reality.  While billions of people waste their lives on computer-generated fantasies, he desires a real life, but he finds himself drawn into a sword and sorcery program in search of a lost lover he long believed to be dead.  Entering the world of Fantasan, he quickly finds himself in over his head, pitted against xenophobic elves, dastardly pirates, and sword-wielding monks hell-bent on his destruction.  It seems everyone is out to get him.

All the while, a trap is being set by a mad sorceress, Josie Johansen, a woman who blames Morgan for the death of her best friend.  Josie intends to make Morgan a prisoner of time itself, exiling him to the distant future, yet everything changes when a mysterious demon reveals himself—for the fallen angel Haloran seeks to escape his simulated prison and enter the real world!  To stop the ascendance of Satan-incarnate, Josie must set aside her personal feelings and cooperate with Morgan, but will she ever be willing to forgive him?

I believe this is far superior to the current back-cover blurb I have for Prisoner of Time, and plan to start using this in the future on my website, and eventually on the back cover of the forthcoming 2nd Edition of the book.  So it wasn't a total loss.  It would have been nice to get somewhere with the ABNA again, but it's obvious that their literary interests lie in a different direction than mine—their loss.

Here's to failure!  It looks like this is shaping up to be another one of those years...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plebians of Plebiscite (Minstrel Mondays)

Here's a little something I threw together several years ago.  I think it's one of my better pieces, actually, but you be the judge.

Drinking muddy water from a mason jar,
letting it all soak in
This is my life,
the sunny side of this hard land.
I till the soil of the seeker's vision,
fertilize their imaginations to
unending possibilities.

A mosquito lands upon my arm,
I crush it with my hand
and somewhere a dragonfly dies
for the sustenance I have extinguished.

Ripples appear in the pond's surface
as a slumbering mystery decomposes
hidden among the muck,
unknown to the minds of modernity.

Slide sideways through the hallways
of possibilities.
Our world is always remarkable
through the unshaded eyes of innocence.
yet unremarkable to the rose-tinted vision
of the unperceptive plebeians of plebiscite.

You know this means something,
but don't ask me what,
for I'm just the poor farmer
laughing at the idiocy of it all.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So Very Tired

I'm sorry that I haven't put together this week's Family Sunday column, but I had to take some time off after the hectic week I've had.  Helping to organize the Washington County Republican "Super-Caucus" was wild, and yesterday was long and exhausting.  We didn't have the massive turn-out we could/should have had, but we did get 306 voters, and had a lot of guests from the various Presidential campaigns, giving us a pretty packed room.

For those interested, the vote totals were:
Ron Paul: 163
Mitt Romney: 80
Rick Santorum: 57
Newt Gingrich: 4
Undecided: 2

It'll be an interesting State Convention in May.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Anonymous Comments May End

When I started blogging on a regular basis, I decided it was a fair and logical thing to accept "anonymous" comments, so long as they were moderated.  In the past year, that has worked out for the most part, but I've gotten a few "off color" posts, as every blog owner can probably imagine.  This hasn't been a really big problem until recently, when a sudden influx of them has driven me to reconsider my position.

I tend to avoid controversy with my posts, as I'm really not a lover of conflict.  I am a fun loving writer, who is generally satisfied to weave my imaginative tales for all, and I like to keep my opinions and politics separate from this job.  Yet, now and then, I've found myself sliding into the hazardous realm of political opinion, and expressing one viewpoint or another that has drawn the attention and ire of differentially-minded people.  Some of those folks have turned out to be less than civil, posting narrow-minded and offensive comments, and that has left me wondering if I should stop accepting anonymous comments entirely.  Sure, the comments can be deleted before anyone besides me sees them, but it is annoying as hell to deal with an onslaught of childish trolls who think you should shut up unless you express their point of view exclusively.

There are times when you have to take a stand, and there are plenty of people who will always be standing on the other side when you do, waiting to take a cheap shot.  I would simply ask that those who read my blog posts refrain from spewing vulgar epithets or belittling my intelligence and integrity, simply because we may disagree.  Like that famous line from the Shootist goes, "I'll not be wronged, I'll not be insulted, and I'll not be laid a hand on.  I don't do these things to others, and I expect the same from them."  What a wonderful place the world would be if more people (especially online) took these simple words to heart.

So, when was the last time you had a run-in with an internet troll?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

West of the Warlock (Peek/Sample 1)

There are a lot of new people reading the blog these days, and many of them aren't aware that much of my unique Fantasy-Western cross-genre novel is available to read for free at Hall Brothers Entertainment.  So, for those who haven't stopped over there and started reading, here is the beginning of Episode 1:

The dust of the hills rolled up in great plumes behind the stagecoach as it thundered down the well-traveled road. The blued steel plates glistened in the late-afternoon sun, an armored behemoth among parched sagebrush. It was the pride of the fleet, owned and operated by Ferguson and Finney Limited. The mining consortium had a dozen coaches that made trips between Sacramento and Selwood, but this one was special, for transporting the most valuable cargoes.

The beasts hauling the coach were not horses, but sand mares. The cold-blooded reptilians looked more akin to dragons than equines, with scales and thorny protrusions covering them from head to tail. Six of the bulky creatures were attached to the yokes, and even with the heavy load they could outrun the fastest racehorse. The wild version native to the southern Rockies and Sierra Nevadas could turn you into a tasty snack with ease, though the domesticated variety were gentle enough, and could gallop in a smooth fashion.

Atop the armored coach sat a round cylinder of menacing armaments; the famed Gatling gun, the greatest machine gun of the day. With a few turns of the crank, it could fend off a pack of angry Indians, or slaughter the most ruthless elven bandits. Additional backup lurked inside the coach, as a pair of well-armed men waited with rifles and pistols, prepared to defend the cargo with their lives.

None could stand against the combined strength of these defenses which sought to safeguard this special transport, or so the stockholders hoped.

The man smiled. He's seen it all before. Similar weapons had done no good last week for a band of disagreeable elves. The pointies really thought that a few hunks of metal and a few guns could stand up to his might, but he'd shown them. The rowdy claim-jumpers who'd wanted to hoard a mother load of antimony had tasted his wrath, and not one had lived to tell of it.

That had merely been a warm up. Today, the warlock in black would prove his true mettle.

Rubbing at his chin, the warlock felt the start of stubble growing there, and his thoughts momentarily shifted to his personal hygiene. He was never one for beards, and he'd be damned if he'd grow one like the old stuffed shirts at the academy. How careless he was being, forgetting to shave over the excitement of a heist. That could not be tolerated.

With a thought and a rolling of his eyes, the man activated the magic at his command, and a ripple of red rolled down his face, removing the tiny stubble growing on his cheeks and chin. The end result was a perfect shave, smoother than the best barber could provide. He stroked himself appreciatively, and decided he was ready.

Stretching out his arm, the man formulated a magic spell in his head, and directed it toward the charging sand mares. A scarcely visible streak of light flashed through the air and shot into each of the animals, disrupting their central nervous systems. Paralyzed, they stopped dead in their tracks, and began to tumble from their remaining inertia.

Under ordinary circumstances, a stagecoach would flip over, or even end-for-end after such an abrupt stop, but the added weight of the armor plates prevented the thing from toppling. Its back wheels lurched up in the air a couple of feet, then came back down with a great crash, bringing everything to a halt.

With the coach motionless, it would be such a simple task for any parlor magician to teleport the wealth inside, or so the man in black believed until he tried. Clearly, the brains behind this armored wagon's design had anticipated the possibility of mystic assault, and laced the exterior with a neutralizing ward. Your typical warlock or elvish bandit would find it impossible to extract anything from within the vehicle, though there was nothing typical about this darkly clothed gentleman. If he wished, he could defeat the magic wards, and take what he desired with a thought, though encountering resistance made him bold, and eager to face his foes in person.

"Time to say hello,"

If that piques your interest, be sure to get over to Hall Brothers Entertainment, and download the whole first Episode.  Then, get the other 7 for free, and buy the book, which contains more of the story plus extras!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'd Give Up Eternity (Minstrel Mondays)

Here's a pretty personal poem that I wrote for my wife shortly after we first fell in love (wow, it's been over 10 years now).  It was a time that certainly changed my life, and led me down a far different path that I had been on beforehand.  So, after nearly 11 years in a drawer, here's a piece of poetry I hope anyone who has ever been in love can understand.

I love loving you
as I've never loved before.
So long I've been forgotten,
yet now thanks to you I'm found.
Please never let me go,
for I cannot imagine the pain.

It hurts to think you'll ever be gone,
for my once dead heart
has now been reborn
and only you can keep it alive.
Stay with me as long as you can.
Never betray me,
and stay forever true,
for we can never escape this
high we've fallen into.

I ask the powers that be
that time will not take us away
from one another again,
because life would be nothing
if I can't share it with you.

Everything I have,
it seems so little.
Compared to you,
it all is nothing.

Not long before we met
I held the universe in my hands,
I felt the very breadth of existence
lurking in my mind,
I knew such the answers,
tasted spiritual truth,
yet all it did was lead me to you.
The facts of heaven were
at my fingertips,
and fantastic figures waited
willing to tell them all.
But now that I have you,
it all faded into irrelevancy.
I've given up the secrets of eternity,
just so we may be together,
if only for our lifetimes.

True love is so wholly illogical,
but fun to an absolute.
Maybe I've been a spirit far too long,
and it's time I enjoyed my human fate.
My soul can wait,
we'll be one once again,
but for now I just want to live.
The future may be uncertain,
but with you it can't be too bad.

I'll share with you the secrets of me,
and together, perhaps later,
we can proceed as once I had planned.
But for now, I only want to be with you.
Eternity can wait,
forever, if necessary,
and I'll leave it up to you.
Shall we give the world the truth it needs,
or let it wait in blissful ignorance?
Only you and I can decide.

I'd rather be here
with you in my arms
than flying with the angels any day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Maine GOP Disenfranchises Voters

Last night, the Maine State Republican Committee & Chairman Charlie Webster decided to announce the "winner" of the Maine Republican Caucus Straw Poll, totally disregarding the fact that Washington County and much of Hancock County have not yet caucused & voted.  Following their declaration of Mitt Romney's "victory," they affirmed that anybody who hadn't yet caucused wouldn't count, and their votes wouldn't be added to the Statewide totals; never mind that towns legally have until March 20 to caucus.

This is very questionable behavior, for the race was very tight, and Romney only has a 194 vote lead over Ron Paul.  Washington and Hancock county caucuses will be held on February 18, and they could very well eat away or even eliminate that lead, giving Ron Paul a victory, but we can't have that, now can we?  The Great and Powerful Chairman has spoken!

This disenfranchisement should be an insult to every voter, regardless of party or ideology.  Basically, a few elites of the Republican Party are saying that those of us in Washington County "don't matter."  It is a spit in the eye, and an insult to everything the Founding Fathers fought for... and it should never be tolerated in a free Republic!

Here's a draft copy of a letter I will be mailing to my fellow Republicans in Robbinston, hoping to inform them of the situation and fire them up for the caucus:

As you have no doubt heard by now, the Washington County "Super-Caucus" scheduled for this past Saturday had to be postponed due to the snowstorm.  The rescheduled date for the caucus is February 18, 2012.  As previously planned, it will be held at Washington Academy on Hill Street in East Machias, starting at 1:30PM.  We'll have a candidate forum, where every Republican running for public office (from the Presidency, Congress, U.S. Senate, and the Maine Legislature) will be in attendance or have a spokesperson there to speak on their behalf.  We'll also be electing delegates and alternates to the State Convention in May, and reform the town committee.  Then, we'll be voting in a presidential straw-poll, which is perhaps the most important reason to attend the caucus this year.

As you may have heard, the State Republican Party decided to go ahead and announce a "winner" of the caucus straw-polls on Saturday night, even though most towns in Washington & Hancock County have yet to caucus.  When some of us objected to our votes being disenfranchised, State Party Chairman Charlie Webster dismissed us entirely.  He said there'll end up being fewer than 200 total votes cast in Washington County, so basically we don't matter, and he doesn't intend to add our votes to the statewide results!

This is an outrage, and we should all be upset.  By State Law, Maine towns have until March 20 to caucus and vote in the straw poll.  What Webster and the State GOP are doing is equivalent to closing the voting booths at noon on Election Day and telling us "tough luck, your votes don't count."  This cannot be allowed to happen, and no American should tolerate this sort of behavior.

It is important that as many Republicans from Washington County show up as possible.  We must send the State GOP a message, that we do matter out here, and that we have a right to vote!  I implore you, if there's any way you can take the time on Saturday afternoon, make the drive down to East Machias and join your fellow Republicans in the caucus process.  Together, we can make the entire country hear from us!

Hopefully, enough voters will show up to make Charlie Webster think twice about trying to cheat us out of our say!

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Busy Week

Things have been hectic for me this past week, as evidenced by my lack of blog posts.  In addition to getting the necessary signatures for my School Board run, I had a wisdom tooth extracted, and I've been working on several other important projects that have kept me busy and distracted.  I'm still sitting on some interesting news that just can't go out yet; not until I'm sure it's the right time.  Waiting really is a pain.

I'm pleased to say I'm putting the final pages down on The Six Gun Conjurer, and after my head stops hurting from the dental surgery I just had, I hope to finally get that completed.  The continuing adventures of Ron Grimes and company is shaping up into an even longer series than I ever would have expected.

As the third volume in the Fantasy Western saga nears an end, I have plans for a fourth book in the series, though I may let things set for a few months before I start work on it.  There are other stories I need to tell, and even more worlds to explore.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Standing for the School Board

When it comes to elections, I'm something of a wildcard.  Whenever I run for office, I find myself fighting my own nature, which is to hide behind a keyboard and write my thoughts.  Public speaking will never be my forte, and going out to lobby for votes is always a stressful chore.  In the past, I've found that I just can't be shameless, and that has cost me in the arena of "popularity contests" that we call elections.

Yet, despite myself, I find it impossible to abandon the call of duty.

Daring to venture once more into the fray, I've decided to run for the Robbinston School Board.  The school board isn't always a "big" deal in my little town.  It's basically a volunteer position you have to get elected to.  Yet, while it isn't a position most people seek, it is very important for those of us who care about our children's future.  We need to make sure our kids get the best education possible without bankrupting the taxpayers in the process.  That is understandably a tenuous proposition, with restrictive funding guidelines and limited capital in these hard economic times.

Robbinston Grade School is one of the best schools out there, public or private.  We have a good learning environment, with teachers who are caring and attentive to the students' needs.  I want to keep it that way, but I can't do that from the sidelines.  Therefore, I must step up, and hope the townspeople will give me their trust.

Last year, we had the big "closure" spectacle, where the current board threatened to shut the school down and tuition our kids to neighboring schools.  The plan to shut it down would have actually cost $5,000 more than keeping our school open, but the threat was still made.  One board member used it as political posturing, to wake up the voters to the reality of an unavoidable tax increase, but another member seemed genuinely interested in shutting the school down.  He thought our kids would get a better education in a bigger, consolidated setting, and he's the one who's up for re-election this year.

I can't make any big, grandiose promises.  I'm not going to cut everyone's taxes in half, nor am I going to magically double funding for the school.  What I will do is fight to my last breath to keep the school open, and do everything possible to minimize the impact on property tax rates.  It's the least any school board member should do.

This isn't my first race, and it won't be my last.  I may hate the idea of another election, but there are times that a man must make a stand, and yet again here I am.  The only question is, who will stand with me?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fly Me to the Moon

I've always been a big supporter of the space program.  While dreaming of the future is a prerequisite for a writer of Science Fiction, I have also held very practical views on exploring and colonizing outer space.  I feel it is mankind's ultimate purpose and destiny to travel to the stars, and the first step toward doing that is to get some colonies set up in our own metaphorical back yard.  By that, I mean setting up shop on the celestial bodies in our own solar system.

Newt Gingrich said something unexpected last week.  Now, I'm no fan of Newt, but he said we should establish a colony on the moon, and I feel that has merit.  Of course, he was just pandering to voters in Florida (where NASA is located, duh!), but where he might say it as a cheap political maneuver, I actually believe in doing it.  The United States needs to go back to our nearest celestial neighbor in a big way.  It's time we picked up where Apollo 17 left off, and actually do everything our forefathers were dreaming of during the 1960's and before.  It's time to build our moonbase.

A lot of people don't care about space these days, and even more would argue that this "isn't the right time."  But when the hell is?  The simple answer is it will never be the right time if you take that attitude.  We're never going to "fix things" on Earth, and there's always going to be some crisis or war or stock market crash that's going to scare people away from "wasting" resources on such a venture.  If we'd taken this attitude in the 60's (like Walter Mondale wanted), we'd never have gone into space at all, and the frontiers of science and technology would be far suppressed.  Much of the fantastic tech we use today was subsidized and perfected by the space program—but if you prefer your slide rule and think the Commodore 64 was the best computer ever made, I'm sure you'd love the alternate reality without a space program.

I also firmly believe that our landing on the moon gave us a real shot in the arm toward winning the Cold War.  We proved our superiority over the totalitarian Communist Russians, and that bit of psychological warfare did a lot to shape the future.  If the Commies had landed, it would have told the world that collectivist authoritarianism is superior and can "get things done," and that could have given the Reds enough pride in their own accomplishment to advance even farther.  I truly believe that without Neil Armstrong's historic step, the USSR would still be a dominant power today.

So, now, almost 42 years later, we have a new batch of authoritarians plotting a space race.  The Communist Chinese have been saying for some time now that they intend to set up a lunar colony.  This is not something those of us in the free world should take lightly, nor should we ignore the worth of setting up our own moonbase.

We are at a point in human history where building a base is perfectly viable.  We have the technology, and the resources.  All we really need is the national will to do it.  The longer we wait to get back to colonizing space, the harder it will be, as more Earthly problems crop up.  There is no telling what the future may hold, and all it would take is a few extremists to drop a few bombs and we'll be back to pre-industrial technology, or worse.

In case of terrestrial catastrophe, we need someplace to store the collective knowledge of the present era; a safe haven that will assure that everything we have written, everything we have uncovered, will not be obliterated by our own follies.  There are countless stories throughout history that have been lost.  What secrets could we have known, if the Library of Alexandria hadn't been burned by an illiterate despot?  How many lost writings are we still uncovering in the deserts, and how many will never be found?  This is something that should not come to pass again, but it likely will if we don't establish a secure storehouse off-world.

It is high time mankind build a base on the moon, and pretty soon somebody is going to do it.  The question is, who do you want in charge of the base?   Do you want it run by a fascist regime that views its people as little more than farm animals, a government that has murdered millions of innocents, and has no respect for civil rights or individual freedom?  Or do you want a free democratic republic in the driver's seat, assuring that the people who go into space will be bringing the tenets of liberty and justice with them?

I say let it be free men and women who colonize space, and let it be now!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Curse of Selwood (Peek 2)

We're still several months away from the release of the second Fantasy Western novel, but while we're waiting for "The Curse of Selwood," I'd like to share another short snippet from Episode 1.

            The creature crawled out of his cave, the thin, emaciated being in the rough form of a humanoid.  While proportioned much like a human being, he was certainly not a man.  Bony protrusions jutted out of every joint, forming a crusty exoskeleton over his slim body.  The face was parched and flaking, akin to white sandstone, and the skin was sucked so tightly against the skull to appear ghastly.  No hair could be found upon his scalp, but a few black tufts sat along his jaw line.

            One might assume the creature to be native to the desert, and in recent years he had been, though that had not always been the case.

            Hearing the train, the bony being moved to action, rushing across the dusty landscape like a jackrabbit.  Speed increased with every lurching leap until the creature came to the top of a ridge and saw his quarry, the metal machine of man spewing black smoke from its stack, towing a dozen boxcars along the steel rails.

            The train was picking up speed, going faster than any horse could run, though that did not deter the creature from continuing the pursuit.  Racing down the hillside, the being rushed faster, darting along at remarkable velocity—soon matching, and then surpassing the rolling wheels of the locomotive.  He was within striking distance of the caboose before long, and made his move onto the back deck, reaching it in one leap.

            The moment was approaching at last; the time of retribution!

For those of you who haven't yet read West of the Warlock, be sure to get over to Hall Brothers Entertainment and read 75% of it for free, and if you really like it be sure to pick up a copy of the published book, which contains a lot of extra material that will tie into the forthcoming sequel!