A3Writer: September 2014
1001 Nights (3) Abraham (11) Aphrodite (3) Apocalypse (6) Apollo (4) Arabian (3) Artemis (5) Athena (3) Bard (1) Ben Slater (13) Bible (33) Celtic (2) Character File (2) Chinese (1) Christian (1) Conferences (29) creation myths (15) Criminalelement (11) Dark Winds (22) Demeter (10) Don Iverson (4) Eden (5) Enchanter (16) essay (9) F3 (343) Fairy Tales (14) Family (2) Flood Myth (8) Flynn (66) Greek (43) Guest (1) Hades (10) Hindu (2) History Prof (21) Holiday (12) Holiday Myths (6) Incan (1) Iranian (2) Japanese (1) Job (21) Knowledge Myths (3) Library (8) Life (121) Love Gods (4) M3 (137) map (13) Matt Allen (100) Metamyth (5) Misc Flash (36) monthly chart (21) Movies (6) Myth Law (2) Myth Media (4) NaNoWriMo (20) Noah (5) noir (9) Norse (10) Odyssey (7) Persephone (13) Persian (1) Poseidon (1) Prometheus (5) publishing (24) ramble (111) Review (1) Sam Faraday (22) Sci Fi (15) science (1) Serial (17) short story (14) Spotlight (8) Storm Riders (45) Teaching (136) Tech (18) Transformation (5) Travel (27) TV (10) TV Myth (1) Underworld (6) Vacation (15) vampires (18) W3 (11) Writing (166) Writing Tools (15) Zeus (7)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Deadly Debut

            It’s not my usual thing on my blog, but I had the opportunity to review a mystery anthology, and I jumped at it, and I’m glad I did.  Deadly Debut is a mystery anthology put out by the New York/Tri State Chapter of Sisters in Crime with all of the stories taking place in that area.
The real strength of this anthology lies in its eclectic nature. There are stories for lovers of every kind of mystery from amateur sleuth to professional to the bystander who is trying to understand the reasons for a dead body in the closet and the beat cop investigating a shakedown.
I immersed myself in these stories so much they took my mind off the pain and discomfort of a root canal (Seriously! Any break in the drilling and I took to reading these stories). I won’t go over all the stories, but here are some (spoiler-free) thoughts about some of my favorites.
“Death Will Clean Your Closet” is a cautionary tale about partying to the point of memory loss. Explaining the dead body in the closet (which subsequently disappears) is difficult when you can’t remember the night before. This is a fun story with shades of the movie The Hangover but with more realistic overtones and concerns.
“Murder in the Aladdin’s Cave.” First, full confession, I am crazy for Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine. Throw in live music and belly dancing and I’m a truly happy camper. So when I began to read a story in a restaurant with belly dancing, I got a little giddy (FYI, I was wrong about a kebab skewer as the murder weapon). Best of all, I could tell how authentic the experience was. The writer had either really done her research or had done some belly dancing herself to capture the full flavor of the experience. She also highlights what crazy places restaurants can be with their constant bustle, where people barely know what’s going on and can only keep track of their current task, so it’s quite understandable that no one was truly able to know what happened when one of the dancers winds up dead.
“The Lie.” Ah, childhood sins. It’s the little ones, you know, breaking curfew, sneaking out while grounded, going where you’re not supposed to be, and even the little white lie to an adult to keep yourself out of trouble. In a sitcom the little sin would turn out to be something funny and work as a great teaching moment before everyone goes out for ice cream. But this is a mystery story. There are real—long term—consequences to even the childhood sins.
“NYPD Daughter” A beat cop and a shakedown. It might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it’s a recipe for a well-done story that deals with the ramifications of generational police legacy. I would certainly be scared witless at the thought of my daughter joining the police.
Deadly Debut is a great anthology with sharp prose, weighty characters, and a story for all flavors of mystery lovers. Start off with one of the easy-going fun stories or jump into the deep-end with brooding, deadly ramifications, and a hard-boiled world.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Bureaucracies

            I’ve always found bureaucracy distasteful, as have most people. The machine exists, as one of my political science professors put it, to ensure its own survival. What is ostensibly there to serve the people, to manage what, on an individual level is unmanageable, morphs into its own entity that will do whatever it takes to perpetuate itself, even at the expense of its original purpose.
            I’ve struggled in dealing with bureaucracies, and never managed to find a path that truly worked well. The courses they insist upon are largely unnavigable, and littered with rocks and shoals that trip up even experienced navigators.
            I think, too, the longer a person works at a particular place, the more they see inside the bureaucracy, and it’s never really pretty.
           


Friday, September 26, 2014

F3 Red Tape

            Flynn struggled with the customs forms for Gemini Station. Gemini was a large, Alliance hub just shy of the Core worlds, which meant it funneled in travelers and trade from all over the Alliance. As such, they had a lot of rules and regulations, and at least four forms for everything, none of them equal and each required under a specific set of circumstances. But only a clerk could inform you as to which one to use.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tools

            The details are where things matter most, and I’ve found that having the correct tools makes the detail work easier. Unfortunately, there are an abundance of tools available, not all of them equal. Trying to find the right ones to fit your particular needs is a daunting task. Also, there’s a budget to consider.
            In preparation for my Kickstarter campaign, I had to look at tools to help make my video, both on the physical side and the digital side. A tripod, mount, microphone, lighting, and more had to be considered for the video. I needed to enlist a friend as a camera man (and co-director since I was in front of the camera). And then on the digital side, I needed a computer with enough processing power and the correct software to edit the raw footage into something presentable.
            I don’t have professional film school hardware or software. I don’t claim that my film is anywhere near that quality. I wish it was. Not because I think that makes a video better, but because the right tools make a job and the finished product better.
            I reach for my tools whenever I have need. The best tool in the world is no good unless it is used. Moreover, there’s no shame in using tools. That’s what they’re for.
           


Monday, September 22, 2014

Back in the Saddle

            Over the summer I managed to rediscover writing, and how satisfying it is to create a story with characters I can get caught up in. I willingly set it aside to work on my Kickstarter campaign, but now that it has ended, I wonder if I’m going to be able to get back to the writing. I’ve got a lot of other things to take care of, and time is now at more of a premium than ever. And while money is a necessity, especially for a growing business, and teaching is still paying the bills, rejuvenation comes from writing. I will need to get back in the writing saddle because, ultimately, that is what gets me through all of the other work.


Friday, September 19, 2014

F3 Museum Tour

            My old partner, Max Stein, would have wanted to skin me alive for what I had done. Myself, I thought I was creative. Among the items Max had collected and stashed were books. Some of them were in recognizable languages, but a few were completely indecipherable, written in a dead language that even scholars at DeGradi University couldn’t speculate on.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Campaign Ended

            Well, the Kickstarter is now over. It was a wild ride. Now I have to deal with the aftermath. I will say I’ve learned a lot from this experience, especially with how much work goes into all of this. I thank everyone who took part in the campaign. Your support means more than words can succinctly express (and I’m a writer, so I know).

Now it’s time to move forward.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Devil's Work

            The Devil is in the details. Truer words have never been spoken. With so many projects, the broad strokes are easy, but true execution requires a massive amount of adherence to minutiae to daunt the most stalwart. I haven’t found any projects that are simple and easy to pull off. My latest, in the Kickstarter, is a piece of software. My coding skills are nothing to brag about, but coding is easy for me.
            The rest of it, though, to make it into something viable: marketing, certificates, copy protection, pricing, marketing, legal issues, customer service, and did I mention marketing?
            There’s always work to be done. There’s no real chance to sit back and rest on laurels. I have to keep ticking off those details so the devil doesn’t get my due.


Friday, September 12, 2014

F3 Mourn the Fallen

            Peter Flynn pulled out the bottle of Antares Whiskey and a couple of shot glasses from his private stash and headed out of his cabin. He joined Lt. Kimball in the common area of the ship. She already had a bottle of Ember Spirits on the table cracked open. The spicy spirits already started to perfume the room. No doubt the bottle had already warmed itself up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not a Phone

            I’m a weird guy (anyone reading this knows this by now). And I’m into technology. But it has to be on my own terms. I tend to get a device and use it the way that it fits into my life. I don’t adapt my life for the sake of a technology, which is probably why I still have trouble with Twitter and Facebook. I’ve never had a particular need to share bits and pieces of my life that frequently.
            I was late coming to the smartphone party, and, to me, it’s less a phone and more of a portable computer. It just happens to have the ability to make phone calls and send text messages built into it. My most used apps: calendar, Wiktionary (because I don’t have a data plan), a note taking app (I’m still trying to find the right one), Audible, and Poweramp. I don’t surf the web on my phone if I can help it. I don’t type messages. I don’t skype or use social networking. I will check email, but almost never reply or send from the phone.
            So with the debut of these new smartwatches, I begin to wonder how they will fit into my use of smartphones. Most of the apps are geared towards texting, email, and social networking. I might be fine with reading email on the watch, or at least knowing who just emailed me because my pocket buzzed, but what else is there? For a device that nearly costs as much as a smartphone, what else can it do for me?
            I do have to admit that I like the looks of the Moto 360. Of course Pebble has a wonderful simplicity and pragmatic approach. And do I really need a smartwatch?
            Probably not.


Monday, September 8, 2014

When Everything Stops Working

            What do you do when teaching methods fail you? When methodologies that used to work no longer do? What do you do when the bag of teaching tricks is empty? What do you do to try and remain effective? What do you do when every new trick you come up with flops?

            What do you do when you no longer care to try finding new tricks?

Friday, September 5, 2014

F3 The Black

            Flynn, restless, relieved Ann at the helm, more for his own sake than to let her rest. He didn’t want her to go on about her books or the latest debauchery she wanted to get into at their next port. This was a night where Flynn wanted quiet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Going Gradeless

            I read a blogpost by a high school English teacher on this novel idea of not assigning grades to student writing throughout the semester. It’s a novel idea, but I don’t think it’s one that can actually translate to the college level, mostly because of time.
The high schools have 18 week semesters with class 5 days a week (most of them, anyways), making for roughly 85 days of class (depending on the holidays). The colleges, typically, have sixteen week semesters with class occurring 2 or 3 times a week, making for between 30-43 days of class, again depending on holidays.
            With so much extra time, it’s easy to see how this teacher could afford to spend many days in conference with students about their writing, but colleges expect students to shoulder the majority of work outside the classroom.

            So I’m not sure I could justify attempting a gradeless system such as is described, but I am intrigued.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rest

            The concept of rest, of setting aside a day when we should set aside our labors is interesting, and I think becoming increasingly futile as time goes on. Most of us now take our work with us wherever and whenever we go. I have friends who are, literally, on-call for their jobs. No, they’re not doctors.

            As for myself, I seem to always have a project going on that needs my attention. And there’s always writing. Though that is more of a passion than a labor. Still, it’s been a while since I truly set my labors aside, more like delayed them for a short period of time, but never truly set them aside.