Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What I'm Thankful For:
Lori, My Brilliant Wife

I know this is a little late, but we've been through a lot over the past few years and, late or not, I wanted to finally say what I've always meant to say. Besides, Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick every year anyway. Nowadays, we seem to, as a culture, go immediately from trick-or-treating to stuffing stockings. Thanksgiving is important. It should not be forgotten.

So I'm going to take just a moment to give thanks for Lori. As a writer, the best way I know how to do this is with words.

I used the term "brilliant" in the headline and that was not by accident. The word "brilliant" has many different meanings. And they all apply to Lori. Shall we explore them?

1 (of light) very bright and radiant.
(of a color) brightly and intensely vivid.

Lori is definately bright. She's whip-smart and not much gets past her. She was a first-grade teacher for seven years and a substitute teacher before (and after) that. Now she's Melody's teacher at home and boy does she have her work cut out for her. Melody herself is a brilliant little handful!

Lori is also radiant. Her smile is like a sunrise and her eyes gleam, especially when she's locked onto something that she wants. Her strong and vivid personality, often hidden to others because she's somewhat shy, is a primary reason we have acheived, as a family, as much as we have in the six short years since we've been married. I think vivid could also be used to describe the scope of Lori's emotions. She feels things strongly... passionately. When she's happy, she's joyful. When she's sorrowful, she's in, to quote Anne Shirley, "the depths of despair." She possesses an artistic temperment which leads me to the next definition for "brilliant."

2 (of light) outstanding; impressive.

Lori impressed me the first time we met. She's smart, savvy and classy. Just being seen next to her bumps me up the social ladder by at least two rungs (she'd probably say three). She's smarter than the average girl, which might intimidate some guys. She's also taller than the average girl, especially in heels or boots. I never wanted to date someone who could kick my butt. And while I don't think Lori really could, I don't think I'd ever want to give her a run for her money. She's like Wonder Woman and she's got the sexy legs to prove it.

As a song writer, Lori continues to impress me. While I'm sort of the de facto wordsmith of the family, providing my fair share of lyrics to our songs, Lori's lyrics are real and touch preciesely where they need to. Sometimes she (wisely) asks for my help with the lyrics. Another place she impresses. Guys never ask for help. But Lori truly collaborates with me. Of course, her knowledge of music far surpasses mine. Anything I write in the realm of musical notes will be rudimentary. While I can put down broad-stroke musical phrases, Lori's chords are what shade the music. Every time I think I know where she's going to go, she surprises me and pulls something else out of her magic bag of tricks.

Brit., informal. very good, excellent or marvelous

But it's her vocal performances that are truly marvelous. Lori, a fan of everything from rap to classic rock to brit pop to black gospel can belt it out like the best of them. She has a great range and a strong and solid delivery. Her passion shines through when she's really giving it her all. And, when she's had a good night's sleep, I'd put her pipes up there with Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Christina Aguleria. I'm not joking when I say she's our band's lead singer. For anyone else in the group, myself included, to claim that title would be ridiculous.

Perhaps most impressive and marvelous of all is that Lori agreed to be my wife. She consented to go on this journey called life with me. We didn't always know where it would take us or what we'd go through. But we're doing it together. She's the sounding board for all my novels and short stories. Nonfiction too. She's the believer in my dreams and the dreamer of many herself. And, even though I don't always agree, I've learned to always listen to her. She has unparallelled insight. She sees the glass as half-full when I'm often tempted to turn the thing over and dump out the paltry contents.

She puts brightness and sparkle into each of my days.

If that doesn't describe brilliance, then I don't know what does.

Thank you, God, for my brilliant wife.

And thank you, Lori, for sticking with me.

TV Mid-Season Round-UP

Naturally, there's more going on in our lives than what I watch on TV. We've finally wrapped up our financial situation with our house and we're for the most part very please with the results and we're currently all decorated for Christmas. Melody is doing very well in school. She just needs to be a little less chatty. My writing and publishing venture is beginning to bloom. And the band/worship work Lori and I have been working on since stepping down from The Connection is finally coming to fruition.

But this post is about my favorite TV shows and where we're at with them. Most of them have come to some sort of mid-season finale. And some won't start at all until January. So I'm gonna start with Mondays and go from there.



I'm sorta tired of justifying my continued devotion to this show. I will agree that it hasn't ever been as good as it was the first season. But it hasn't been as bad as a lot of fanboys have made it out to be. It's still pretty cool and the Thanksgiving episode was perhaps the best of the season. The last episode, in which a key character finally bites the dust, was also good I thought and I'm interested to see where they're going to take it from here. So count me in for the season. Whether it goes out with a bang or gets another chance to re-capture season one's glory has yet to be determined. I say, if they can't step the game up to season one levels, perhaps it's better to go out altogether. Heroes returns January 4 with a two-hour episode. The following week, it will move to its new time at 9 pm (following new episodes of Chuck).


As a writer, it's easy to like Castle. It's about a writer (Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame) in the vein of Stephen King and he teams up with a pretty detective to solve crimes and get inspiration for his crime novels. Naturally, snarky quips and romantic-tinted banter abound. It's fun and it's a show that Lori will watch with me and actually enjoy. There's a new episode next week so I don't know if it will slow down through the holidays or not. Mondays at 10 pm on ABC.

Still To Come: Chuck

Chuck is the guy who could have been so much more except he got kicked out of Stanford and wound up heading up the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More (read: Geek Squad at Best Buy). It would have been a bleak existance had an ex-college buddy who was secretly a spy not sent Chuck the Intersec, a high-tech computer that holds all the country's secrets. With a mere click of a mouse, Chuck opened the e-mail containing the Interesec (that's some serious file compression to send something like that via an e-mail attachment) and the next thing Chuck knows is that he's downloaded the whole thing into his head. To protect him while he's harboring this supercomputer, Chuck's been assigned the kick-butt Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah, a female spy who poses as his girlfriend. Sparks fly between Chuck and Sarah but they can't be together while he's got the Intersec in his brain. At the end of last season, Chuck finally got said computer out of his head only to end up downloading the new version of it into his head. Now, in addition to knowing all of the country's secrets, Chuck also has new physical abilities, Matrix-style. Clips for the new season look promising. They're upping the ante by bringing Chuck more into the spy world, it appears. While Chuck has always been fun, it'll be nice to turn the formula on its ear a little. Chuck's third season starts on Sunday, January 10 with two episodes and then moves to it's usual Monday timeslot on January 11 at 8 pm.



Yes, it's the re-imagining of that cheesetackular mini-series from the 80s that I loved so much as a youth. So far, it's fairly good. I'll admit to not having watched the latest episode yet. They only showed four episodes before the holidays. Supposedly, it's going to come back early next year, although ABC has yet to set a return date.

Still To Come: Lost

Do I really have to explain Lost? I'm not even sure if I could. This is the final season, so everything is supposed to wrap up. Last year, Juliet exploded an atomic bomb in the 70s, supposedly blowing up our heroes and potentially re-setting the timeline. A lot of returning characters who are supposed to be dead are set to make appearances this year so if you've followed the adventures of survivors of Oceanic 815 and The Island this far, there's really no reason not to complete your journey. Lost is set to return on ABC on February 2.


Still To Come: Psych

I can't say how much I love this comedic fake-psychic murder-mystery series. It's peppered with quips, snark and 80s pop culture references. The characters are well-drawn and hilarious. As long as they can keep it funny and fun, I'll keep watching. Psych starts back up on it's new night (Wednesdays) on January 27 on USA.

Still To Come: Human Target

Haven't seen this yet. It's based on a comic book that I haven't read but the premise seems like fun. A guy saves people by becoming them. I'm gonna give it a shot, despite the fact that it's on FOX (see Dollhouse below). The first episode of Human Target will air at 8 pm on Sunday, January 17 on FOX before it moves to its usual timeslot, Wednesdays at 8 pm starting January 20.



Billed as the New Lost by ABC prior to its debut, FlashForward had a lot of things going for it including Ralph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love). But even that couldn't keep my wife's attention. And apparently the masses agree. It's been sinking in the ratings for weeks now. I'm still watching it. There are momemnts of promise. But part of the problem I think is that the biggest event that will ever happen on this show happened in the pilot (everyone on the planet blacked out for 3 minutes, 17 seconds and caught a glimpse of their future). It's hard to have twisty surprises when the biggest thing that could happen already happened and we're basically just watching everyone's reaction to it. Sure, the same arguement could be made of Lost, but what our friends found on The Island was so unexpected and bizarre that the writers were able to continually provide surprises. So far, the biggest surprise was that the future isn't necessarily written in stone. Or maybe it is. Or something.


From J.J Abrams, architect of the once-great (and always good) Alias and re-imaginer of the always watchable Star Trek, comes a worthy heir to X-Files. This year is more of the same from last year. Except now we know we're dealing with an alternate universe, which, outside of Sliders, is a rare subject matter for TV, even genre TV. The writing is always solid and watching John Noble's Vincent Price-esque performances are always worth the 60 minutes to watch.


From the outset, I liked this show because it didn't shy away from the fact that there are supernatural elements to our world. The two brothers drove their souped up Impala cross-country every week to fight ghosts and goblins and save the innocent while searching for their dad. Then they moved on to some other obscure stuff. They found their dad and then he was killed off. Around that time, they started dispatching demons. Then angels started showing up. And now the angels have ushered in the apocolyspe, Lucifer is on the loose and one angel, Castiel, is hoping to bring God onboard. While the show definately plays fast and loose with Biblical mythology, it hasn't been disappointing in the storytelling department. I highly recommend it, but only for those probalby over about 16 years of age. The Apcolypse picks back up when Supernatural returns on January 14 to the CW.



Adrian Monk has had a good run. But now we're down to the finale. Supposedly he'll solve his wife's murder. Finally. Check it out this Friday. 9 pm. USA. Note: The first part of the finale encores at 8 pm.


Against all odds, this show (from Joss Whedon of Buffy, Angel and Firefly fame) about people who have their minds wiped and imprinted with whatever rich clients want received a second season. Unfortunately, ratings were still dismal and FOX has cancelled it. Fortunately, they're going to air the remaining episodes. This Friday, they're airing two back-to-back. Then the schedule goes sorta haywire but they're promising to air them all.


No. Clark Kent isn't Superman yet. But he's something they call The Blur (I guess cause he's so fast no one can see him... last year he was The Red-Blue Blur because he always wears red and blue clothes. Get it? Like Superman?). But now clones of Kryptonians have been released on earth, including Zod (the cloning was done when he was a major though) and Clark's going to have to take him down before the season ends. Oh yeah. And Clark's finally over Lana (now that she's off the show) and is finally romancing Lois Lane. Smallville's actually been pretty good in this, its ninth year. Can you believe it? Nine years! And they're shooting for a tenth! Whatever the case, The Blur will return with new episodes of Smallville starting January 22.


I'm still taping this show every week and I still have not seen one episode of it. Maybe over the holiday hiatuses, I'll be able to check it out.

Still To Come: Caprica

This Battlestar Galactica (the reboot) prequel series stars Eric Stolz and Esai Morales. Sounds like a good mix to me.


Star Wars: The Clone Wars

These half-hour shockingly good glimpses into the Prequel-Era Star Wars universe actually debut on The Cartoon Network on Friday nights but I have too much to watch on Fridays. So I tape the encores on Saturday morning at roughly 8:30 am (sometimes it switches to 9 am for some reason). I told Lori once that if I was twelve I would really love this show. As it is, I really like it alot.


The Legend Of The Seeker

Fantasy on TV done right. I don't know how close it hews to the original Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind, but if this kind of stuff would have come out when I was a teenager, I would have never missed a minute. Hey, I don't miss any minutes now either. Hmmm... The show is syndicated so it's time and day will probably vary from region to region. In my area, it's on at 4 pm on Sundays on the CW.

So there you have it. Plenty to catch up on. Plenty to enjoy for the future. And I didn't even touch on Eureka or Burn Notice.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Whats-On-TV Update

So I'm watching quite a bit on TV these days. Between returning favorites and brand new stuff, there's quite a bit to see, esepcially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy arena.

So here we go:



Yes, I'm among the die-hards who are still watching this show. Season one was so good and the writer's strike interrupted season two prematurely so I was willing to forgive. After that, it just seems like they've never really regained their momentum... or footing... or something. There are moments of greatness so I'm still watching and hoping for this show to return to fulfilling its potential.


Anything with Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly) in it is worth the watch. What surprised me most was that Lori took a liking to this show about a suspense/thriller author (think Stephen King... Rick Castle?) who teams up with the police for research (and to solve copycat murders from his books in the pilot). The writing is fresh, the banter snappy and the mysteries aren't too easy to solve either. They had me at Nathan Fillion and the fact that he's a writer.

The fact that I'm not watching anything on Tuesdays and Wednesdays these days is made up for by the sheer number of shows I'm trying to keep up with on Thursdays and Fridays. It's a good thing that a lot of what I watch on Friday is on cable with multiple air times or I'd miss some of it.



This show is being touted as the "new Lost." So far, I'm seeing the correlation although I'm not sure I agree with it. I'm intrigued for now but there's not a lot happening every episode. And what is happening seems somewhat predictable. Lori seems to like this one too (there aren't a lot of my shows that I can say that about) so I'll keep checking it out.


This show, new last year, continues to surprise. It's sort of the worthy heir to The X-Files but instead of aliens, it seems to be dealing with an alternate universe that often manifests in our world as something the characters are calling The Pattern (the conceit is that the team investigates "fringe science" but it all seems to be increasingly tied to this alternate universe. Oh yeah, and there's this bald pale guy called The Observer who is supposedly in every episode. Except I'm usually too wrapped up in what's going on to locate him. The mad scientist, Walter Bishop is genuinely funny, if not morbidly so, and very unique. John Noble should get an Emmy for portraying him. Oh yeah, and did I mention Leonard Nimoy plays the enigmatic William Bell? Plenty of freaky surprises to go around.


Here's a show that has been getting darker and yet better with every season. The show started out about these two brothers (Dean and Sam Winchester) who were traveling across the country looking for their dad who had disappeared. Of course, their dad hunts supernatural beings (think ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc.) and vanquishes them. The sons are also schooled in such ways and follow in dear old dad's footsteps in hopes of finding him. Over the years, they found their dad, their dad got killed, and then each of the brothers have been killed only to have been brought back for some reason. Last season, a bunch of demons were released and angels came into the mythology as the brothers and everyone they know were trying to stop The Apocolypse. At the end of last season, Lucifer was released. And now the brothers, with the help of an angel named Castiel, are trying to stop Armageddon. The show plays hard-and-fast with Biblical canon, apparently having their own definitions for demons (other than fallen angels) and even what angels are. But it's all pretty cool, nevertheless. One thing I do like about it is that it doesn't try to pretend that there's not a supernatural aspect to our lives, even if they take dramatic liberties in presenting it.


MONK, USA @9pm

I've followed Monk since the first episode. Probably since MASH, there hasn't been a show that has succeeded at being funny yet sad at the same time. This is being touted as the last season and I believe there are only a few more episodes left. Still to come: Monk's original nurse, Sharona, drops in for an episode and the two-part finale that I hope will finally wrap up Monk's wife's murder and get him re-instated to the SF Police force (or at least will find him happy with where he ends up). I have high hopes that the writers will pay this series off well. It's been successful both financially for USA and critically (Tony Shaloub has won multiple Emmys... I've lost count of just how many... for his portrayal of Adrian Monk).

PSYCH, USA @10pm

I have to admit, when USA premiered Psych, I didn't get it all that much. I liked the lead character, despite how flaky he is. But I didn't much get the sidekick. Since then, and with the help of multiple flashbacks to the 80s in each episode's opening, I have come to understand and even revel in the relationship between Shawn and Gus that dates back to their childhood. The writing on Psych is top-notch and hilarious. The one-liners often force me to rewind to hear it again and the pop-culture references, often back to the 80s, are to die for. Which is a good thing because there's usually a murder to be solved. Shawn, raised by his policeman father to be ultra-perceptive, pretends to be a psychic because it's the only way the police will believe him. With success behind him, he and his best friend open up Psych, the psychic detective agency and, as they say in Hollywood pitch meetings, "hilarity ensues." Except this time, it really does.


It's 9 years old this season. And finally, depsite the fact that the great Michael Rosenbaum has departed the show and thus taken the character of Lex Luthor with him, we're finally getting into some Superman stuff. Except they're calling him The Blur (which comes from The Red-Blue Blur, a term that was being used to describe the super-speeding Clark Kent as he would swoop in to save the day). AT least that's what they're calling him for now. Clark still can't fly. But Lana is gone and the romance between Clark and Lois Lane is blossoming. It's only a couple steps away from the Superman that we know. Clark is even wearing the S on his shirt. It's just silver on a black shirt and instead of a cape, he's got a trench coat. I say, just take us there already! I've diligently watched this show from the beginning. When it's time to wrap it up, give me Superman and bring back Lex for the finale. Do that, and all 9 (or 10 if it comes to that) years of watching will have been worth it.


I was never much of a Buffy or Angel fan. But Firefly was my kind of show. So last year I gave Joss Whedon's new show about mind-wiped disposable people a shot. I found it mildly engaging and discovered that Whedon was using the show to subtly comment on our culture. It started out a little wobbly and got better with each episode. By the time the finale came around, I was fully on board but somewhat sad because I didn't think it had any chance for renewal. But never underestimate the power of fans in this 'verse. Lo and behold, Dollhouse was renewed and now it's back with some slight tweaks (now the lead character who is routinely wiped of her memory is maintaining some aspect of the various personalities that she's imprinted with). It's still engaging and the between-the-lines commentary is still there. Ratings aren't, however, so if you want to check out Dollhouse, you might want to hurry.


To those of you who like to pretend that the Star Wars prequels never happened, I have to say I disagree with you. And it's not because I have an irrational love of Jar Jar Binks (although he doesn't bug me as much as he does some SW fans). It's mostly because, if the prequels didn't exist, than either would this excellent computer animated series, set between Episode 2 and Episode 3. There are times I'm watching The Clone Wars and I think to myself, "this is what the movies should have been like." We get full-fledged Jedi action, plenty of battle droids, lots of 'splosions, even a lot of Expanded Universe references and, since the show is in the half-hour format, characterizations that get straight to the point. There's nothing not to love. If you like Star Wars and you've given up since the prequels, give Clone Wars a chance. You'll be glad you did.


I have to be honest here. This show seems like it would be right up my alley. And I recorded the entire first season. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to watch any of it. So I don't know if I can/should recommend it. But everything I've read about it supports my suspicions that it's my kind of show. It starts back up this Friday with a 13 episode second season. So I expect I'll tape those too and eventually I'll get to them all. More info:


LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, Syndicated (in Long Beach, CW @ 5pm)

A lot of sword & sorcery translates to the small screen (and to the big screen for that matter) as pure cheese. But Sam Raimi does a pretty good job with this one, adapted from Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" novels. I don't know how good the adaptation is since I haven't read the books. But the show is consistently pretty good. The new season supposedly starts the weekend of October 31 but, as with all first-run syndicated shows, you may have to hunt for it.

And that's it for now. Chuck and Lost are supposed to come back mid-season and there's the new V, Caprica (Battlestar Galactica prequel spin-off) and Day One (the latter having been recently downgraded into a mini-series) that I'm looking forward to as well. Not to mention the oft-delayed Battlestar Galactia: The Plan movie. But I'll have to weigh in on those once they start and/or return.

For now, enjoy good stories wherever you can find them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's Play Catch Up

Since we lost Lyric back on New Year's Eve, a lot of things have sorta shifted around. Lori and I have had many discussions about priorities and where our various creative and other endeavors will fall over the next year or so.

There's quite a bit to ingest, so I'm gonna lay it all out here in hopes that I can both share it with you, the (hopefully) interested reader as well as wrap my own head around it all.

Show Me The Money!
So it seems as if, after many false starts and time lags, that we finally have an agreement with our lender that everyone is happy with. Lori and I are very pleased with the results in the monthly payment department and I was just waiting on a few more details regarding the loan terms before we put pen to paper and lock this sucker down. That was before my phone just rang. Now we're ready to go! Both Lori and I see the results of this process as an answer to prayer. Especially, since we had previously been offered an agreement that wasn't as beneficial to us. So it's time to thank God this weekend and that's how I'm going into the weekend. With a thankful heart and a good attitude!

This new agreement will give us some breathing room and maybe even some travel money down the line. So stay tuned for where Lori and I have been discussing going.

Pooling Around
It's been extremely hot out this summer and Lori has tried multiple times to have a pool in the back for Melody to play in. The neighbors have a really large pool set up and Melody sometimes goes there to play. But Melody has never had swimming lessons so we don't like to let her go over without one of us being right there. The first inflatable pool Lori bought was quite large and rectangular. It lasted about a day before the neighborhood cats, I guess thinking they had found the mother lode of thirst quenchers, destroyed it with their claws (climbing up to get a drink?). Lori tried to replace it but all additional pools of like design had disappeared off the shelves. So she got this other inflatable one that sprays water out of a giraffe head. The downside though is it's really a small pool, despite the multiple 10-year olds playing in it on the box. I'd call that false advertising, but maybe that's just me. So we've been really good about emptying it and removing it to the garage whenever Melody gets out so the neighborhood cats won't get their claws on (or in) it. But lately, it's been so hot that even Lori and her mom were thinking it would be nice to get in the pool. So the two of them together conspired to get this other, much larger pool. In fact, its probably as large as our neighbor's pool, although not as deep or as high up. So now we have this pool. The top ring inflates and as its filled with water, the top rises, making the pool deeper. Kind of ingenious if you ask me. It also has a water pump that's supposed to clean the water but I have yet to hook that up (it looks like it might be missing some pieces, but maybe I can make it work). So that's the girls' summer fun for you. Maybe I'll get in it this weekend after I mow a lawn or two. Whatever the case, it's too big to take down every day so I've sprayed dog and cat repellent all around it and on the rim. Twice. So far it's fared well over two nights. I guess we'll see.

Rock Around The House
In the meantime, I've been on sort of a household improvement and repair kick. A few weeks ago, I repainted most of the front porch. It's all the same colors as before but just giving it a refreshing. I've also gone around and retouched the house wherever there were any chips in the olive paint. So the place is looking a little spiffier. The driveway gate is getting a little wobbly so I'm going to try to secure that this weekend. Plus probably try to set up the pool's water pump and a few other minor projects around the house. The key is to make the list and prioritize the projects and not try to do them all at once. Otherwise, I won't enjoy my weekend at all. The idea is to push some of them to another weekend. The list is merely there so I don't forget anything.

The Sound Of Music
For awhile now, Lori and I have felt called to have a worship gathering/Bible study for the neighborhood in our basement. When we stepped down from leading worship at The Connection, one of the projects we felt led to was writing our own music. Between Lori and I, we've written a lot of stuff over the past year. And I gotta say, it's all pretty good. I'm really proud of it. Both Lori and I sing the songs. Lori plays keys and I play bass and I think we have a pretty unique sound. Recently, we added to that sound with Ed Che playing guitar and Lou Diaz on drums. The result is Launch Pad: the band. I must say, it is so satisfying to hear the music come together with the full band. But this band isn't just about turning it up to eleven and rockin out. We see the band as the front-end of a missionary movement. Yes, we've written some songs that those who go to church would call "worship" songs. But we've also written other songs that eschew Christianese and just tell it the way it is. We want to be real. We don't want to be churchy. We've got a lot to say and we're saying most of it through music. So, we're going to be rehearsing a lot over the next couple months and then we'll be playing out around town. I hope you can check us out. More info as it comes.

The Write Stuff
In addition to all of the musical mayhem going on, I've been steadily writing as well. Unfortunately, probably mostly due to the economic downturn, my publisher was starting to let some key production dates on Chance for the Future slide. So we had a chat and he released me from my contracts at my request. So, the downside is I'm back without a publishing deal. The upside is, I'm not locked into a deal that isn't going anywhere. As for my backlist, I'm currently working out a publishing schedule for bringing these all back out on my own. They'll require new covers and I'll have to do my own book layout, but it's a minor inconvenience.

That said, "Zooming Thru Life" is pretty much ready to go. It needs a cover but I'll use the logo from the articles/blog. "One of the Girls" will probably get a new edition very soon as well (so it'll have a wider availability, especially online) but I'll probably keep the Kris Cartwright artwork in one way or another. "Chance For The Future" was delivered to the publisher with the new short story, so that's a clean edit that I just need a new cover for. Hope For Tomorrow has had the manuscript marked-up and only needs the edits to be implemented (and a new cover). Faith In The Past will be the next one to get the manuscript polish and also needs a new cover. I just finished the first round of edits on the newly again re-titled "A Stranger On Bay Street" (it'll probably get another couple passes before it's published, but the title shouldn't change again). I must say I'm quite pleased with how that story came out. As with "One of the Girls," I look forward to writing sequels in this world. And progress continues on "Plunge Into Eden," the first book in my sci-fi alternate-universe trilogy. I finished Chapter 23 the other night our of an expected 28 (and an epilogue). So that one nears completion. I'm so very glad to be working on this stuff again on a regular basis.

Meet Melody's New Friend
Another thing that has kept me busy, especially on the weekend, is the dog-escape-proofing of our yard. Because we now have a puppy. Her name is Harmony. She's supposedly half-Golden Retriever (and maybe half shepherd? Dunno). She's short haired and very playful. She's going to be a very big dog when she grows up though so she's an outside dog. I'm actually hoping she'll scare the cats away from our pool. She has a big bed on the back porch that might be nicer than mine and all sorts of chew toys because she's teething and if I don't provide said toys, she will chew the paint off my house and chew through the back porch wood supports like beaver. I've already had to spray stuff I don't want her to chew with this "bitter chew" stuff they had at PetSmart. We'll see if it works. She seems to be pretty smart though. She's already very good at bringing the slobbery tennis ball back when I throw it. But she lived next door for a couple weeks so she still tries to get back over there now and again. So I put up chicken wire along the picket fence (she could squeeze through!) and I've extended the height of our fence in a couple places (and painted the extensions to match the fence for camouflage's sake. Melody really loves "her doggy." The first thing she wants to do every morning is "play with Harmony," even though that dog could bowl her over without thinking about it twice.

Graduation and Pre-K
Which brings me to Melody. She graduated from preschool late last month and started a Pre-K class immediately thereafter. She really enjoys school but I wonder if this new class is taxing her in different ways. Whatever the case, it's probably good for her. The preschool class she was in was lax in a lot of ways. This new class seems to be more structured. I guess she has it for one more week. Overlapping that, starting next week is Melody's swimming class. So, yes, with all this pool talk, we're actually getting Melody some lessons. I'm sure she'll love it. After that, she'll start up at Stevenson (named after author Robert Louis Stevenson... I couldn't be more pleased... ha!) in a year-round schedule, which both Lori and I actually like.

Today would have been my dad's 70th birthday had he not passed away a few years ago. Working around the house so much these days, I can't help but recall helping him work around his house when I was a kid. It seemed like he always knew exactly what to do to fix anything. I don't have anywhere near that kind of knowledge. But then I realize that it probably seems to Melody that I know exactly what to do too. Is it all such a sham? I don't know. But I do know that if my dad was still alive, I'd be hitting him up for advice on how to fix this or that around the house. And he would probably be coming over to explain it to me just so he could play with his little granddaughter. He was very close with Melody's cousin, Violet. But he only held Melody a handful of times as he started getting sick right around the time she was born. I know if he were around, he would be proud of everything she can do these days. I know I am. She's getting so big. She's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl. And she's my little girl. I guess that will never really change.

I'm sure there's other stuff going on, but that's gonna have to be it for this update.

Well, it's Friday and Lori's picking me up after work so I can start the weekend off right with my girls (sans Harmony). We're going to celebrate everything God's doing in our lives and just enjoy being together. What else can I ask for? I'm Looking forward to it!

What I'm Reading - Revised

Well, I had a dentist appointment a couple weeks ago and I must have been so addled by it (nothing wrong, by the way, it was merely a teeth cleaning and the dentist said everything looked great) that I have misplaced my Last Days of Krypton book. I can't find it. I was roughly halfway through it and now, unless I pick up another copy somewhere, I guess I'll never finish it. Bummer.

Worse though: For years I've had this hard cover that slips on to mass-market size paperback books. I don't think you can even get them anymore. Anyway, it was on the aforementioned missing book. So now I have no paperback protection! I've looked online for a new cover but I'm not enamored with any of the newer designs.

I checked with the dentist and they haven't found it there. I don't know where I put it. Maybe I'll run across it someday. In the meantime, I'm reading Hopscotch by the same author (Kevin J. Anderson). I figured if I wasn't going to finish his Superman history, I might as well finish something else by him. As for Hopscotch, it's an interesting read so far. I can tell he's setting up a lot of things. How it will all connect and converge will be something to discover.

Anyway, I still hope to find the other book and cover in the next couple weeks... It would be nice if I could find them around the time I wrap up this book. But we'll see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What I'm Reading

Well, it took awhile, but I completed the Dark Nest trilogy of Star Wars novels (my guilty pleasure) and they were actually pretty good.

Now I'm knee-deep in The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson.

I met Mr. Anderson at a Pikes Peak Writer's Conference when I lived in Colorado (we were both on faculty) and actually had the good fortune of having lunch with him and his wife (Rebecca Moesta) in the main hall. In general, I like his work. I first encountered his writing through my guilty pleasure (Star Wars novels) but have since read some of his other work. In particular, I enjoyed his Captain Nemo novel, which he signed for me at the aforementioned conference. His writing style is very direct. Not simple, really, but it gets right to the point and does not draw attention to itself, instead allowing the story to quickly unfold. He also writes a lot of short chapters, which I prefer over a few very long chapters.

So far, this particular book is intriguing. It chronicles the last days of the planet that Superman is from. My understanding is that Mr. Anderson took many different threads from comics, films, etc. and has weaved them together into one coherent whole. It's fun to visit this world that Superman fans really have mostly only heard about.

I'm also looking forward to Mr. Anderson's new Superman/Batman novel.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Class: Interactive Production

Teaching a new class next week on Interactive Production at The Designory. It's meant as an orientation for the mostly print-experienced Production folks here to transition over to doing production work in interactive space. Hopefully, shortly thereafter, these folks can get their hands dirty with some real Interactive Production work.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Writing Update: February 2009 - WIPs

For those of you out there who are not familiar with the term, WIP stands for Works In Progress. I happen to have a few projects that are in various stages of completion and I'm going to try to make sense of them here (if for no other reason than to get a handle on them myself).

First, what's been delivered to the publisher: Chance for the Future new edit and the new Chance short story, Power to the People.

Hope for Tomorrow (new edit)
The last chapter will get my red pen today at lunch. Next, I need to go into the document and actually make the edits. Another week or two and HFT will be ready to be delivered to my publisher along with the short story, Riot Act.

Zooming Thru Life (tech polish)
Now that I've stepped into the Web 2.0 world of iPhones and mobile connectivity, there are a few places where ZTL can be tweaked to make it a tad more tech-savvy. I'll start this polish with the red pen next week during my lunch hours and will make the fixes to the document by the end of March.

A Stranger On Lake Street (new title)
This is the latest novel I've written, the first in (hopefully) a new series called Worlds Collide. Over the course of several weeks, I read it aloud to Lori before we hit the hay. I think she thought it was a little gory near the end, but heck, it's a war between angels and demons! What do you expect? Anyway, I noticed a few places I could touch up this story when I was reading it to Lori, so I'll tackle a new edit for it once I finish with ZTL. Once the new edit is ready, I'll see if my publisher is interested.

Faith In The Past (new edit)
After I give the new novel another pass, I'll break out the red pen and give the third Fairlight novel another polish before handing it off to my publisher (along with the short story, Saint Nik).

Plunge Into Eden
Planning a trilogy from the outset means, for me anyway, committing to a world and characters for two or three years. The Fairlight novels evolved into a series. Plunge Into Eden is the first in what I've planned as a trilogy (The Earthship Endeavor Chronicles). I've got the basic arc of the trilogy planned and the first novel fully plotted. Anyway, this is the novel I'm writing now. I completed chapter 3 last night and it is progressing nicely. I also need to perfect a logline for at least the first book (if not the entire trilogy) and pitch this series to my publisher as well.

One of the Girls
This book is contracted for a new release through Blademaster but it's a pretty clean manuscript. I might give it one more polish before it runs though. We'll see. I guess it sorta depends on if my publisher asks for it. If so, I may need to re-prioritize. Obviously, books with contracts take priority.

So that's where it all stands. I hope to do another Zooming book as well when time permits (it's mostly about gathering notes) and there's always the Zooming Thru Life blog (). I know it's been a few weeks since I've posted there, but I intend to get back to a regular schedule again. Losing our daughter (in the miscarriage) sorta slowed me down but we're recovering and we're moving forward.

In the future, I'd also like to write sequels to One of the Girls, A Stranger On Lake Street as well as additional Fairlight novels. But more on that another time.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Photoshop Class #3 at The Designory

So my third Photoshop class here at The Designory is as a moderator for a Photoshop Tips and Tricks lab that will take place this Thursday at noon (apparently lunch will be served as well).

The idea is to host a lab where long-time Photoshop "creatives" can come together and share some of their tips and tricks. I'll have some of mine and some subjects to bring up if others don't bring what they need. Apparently lunch will be served so I'm hoping for a good turn out. The announcement is going out today so I'll probably know by the end of the day what the response was.

It's kinda exciting to participate in this way with other "creatives."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Writing Update: January 2009

So, while there's not a lot to speak of as far as increased availability of my work, I'll just take a moment to touch upon the various projects that are currently in "a" stage of progress.

Chance for the Future: This is a brand-new edit of my original 2000 novel that I self-published. The hardcover was due last year. There have been some schedule setbacks with the publisher but I'm assured that the new edition is on track for sometime this year. A mmp (mass market paperback) edition is supposed to follow the hardcover edition (as well as digital releases, supposedly PDF and Kindle). All editions should include a new Chance short story, "Power To The People". With the slips in the schedule, it makes me wonder if this will come out before the novel's ten year anniversary.

Hope for Tomorrow: The sequel to Chance for the Future was originally supposed to see release this year. With the schedule slipping, I'm not sure where this one will fall on the calendar. Like, CFTF, HFT is supposed to see a hardcover release as well as a mmp release (and the digital releases). All editions will be a completely new edit of the story (I'll have completed my edits in another week and have the new draft to the publisher probably early in February) and will include the Nik-centric short story, "Riot Act."

Faith in the Past: The third novel in the Fairlight series will again be a brand-new edit. It's currently set to be a hardcover and mmp release (as well as the aforementioned digital releases). All editions should include the Faith and Nik short story, "Saint Nik."

Zooming Thru Life: My first nonfiction book is slated for August 2009 in trade paperback and digital releases. At this point, I'd be surprised if we make that date based on the publisher's schedule slips. More release info when I have it.

Stranger On A Quiet Street: My angels vs. demons contemporary fantasy novel is pretty much wrapped up. I've been reading it, one chapter at a time, to Lori at night and she seems to dig it. I've noticed a few minor tweaks I need to make to it so once I get through it with Lori, I'll polish it one more time and then let my publisher take a look to see if he's interested. To be honest, I'd like to see some of these other books come out before I get him excited about something else so it might be a good thing to wait a little while before handing it off. Also, the title will probably change somewhat. I think I'll keep "Stranger" in the title but that may be all.

One of the Girls: My YA superhero novel that I self-published shortly before moving back to California (and actually the latest one I've put out) has been picked up by my publisher to see a new edition. That said, I've still got a lot of copies of the original August Too edition. In the past, I've visited elementary schools with these books and it looks like I may start doing that again this year. I currently have feelers out to two schools. More info as I get it.

Plunge Into Eden: This is the working name of the first book in what I expect to be a trilogy called The Earthship Endeavor Chronicles. I've started writing it, even though I haven't fully plotted it yet. I'll be working on the plot tonight and just the anticipation of working on it tonight has excited me enough to drop this entire blog post! Yes. I'm excited about this one. I need to be very excited about a concept and the characters to decide to write a trilogy because it will be a major part of my life for the next two or three years. It is nice to be back to actual science fiction again though. The last two have been more in the realm of contemporary fantasy. The Earthship Endeavor is a spacecraft. So I'm out among the stars this time... at least I am when the tale starts...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Remembering Lyric Phoebe Carhart

As previously noted on this blog, Lori and I were expecting a new baby in April, 2009. Tragically, we suffered a miscarriage at five months on New Year's Eve, 2008. The end result is that we lost our baby. While we had been hoping for a little boy, as it turns out, our child would have been a little girl. Lori named her Lyric Phoebe. It was a devestating turn of events. Both Lori and I are still heartbroken by the loss.

Lori's primary way of dealing with the loss was to have me take down the crib and changing table from the baby's room. Since we've decided we're not going to try again, we got rid of all of the baby stuff. I sent an e-mail to everyone at work who's expecting and had a decent response. We gave away a lot of stuff. Thousands of dollars worth of stuff, probably. Crib, strollers, etc.

The way I deal with this kind of loss has to do with re-focusing my plans and goals. So tonight, Lori and I are going to sit down and look at our goals in every area of our life and adjust where we can, allowing for what our life will probably look like now without this new child in it over the next year or so.

So while we've decided to remove certain items from our life that will remind us of our loss, we choose to remember Lyric Phoebe, our child who "just couldn't make it."