Sometimes You Just Have To Talk These Things Through…

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Automotive Memories

20140330-203147.jpgI bought a car yesterday. My trusted 2004 Camry runs just as well as it ever has, but I learned 10 days ago that it will not pass the emission control test when it gets inspected (its current inspection sticker expires tomorrow.) The estimated cost of restoring it to compliance is $3,700, as a goodly chunk of the exhaust system needs replacing.

The car has given me more than 143,000 good miles with very little trouble. However, the cost-benefit analysis pointed to replacing it. The cost of the repair is greater than its value, and this likely would not be the last repair. So, yesterday I made a deposit on a 2013 Camry with low mileage. The dealer and I agreed on a fair price. Continue reading

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Art For Art’s Sake; Money For God’s Sake

Money vs. Art

Courtesy of

Very interesting blog posts on similar topics in the last couple of days from Philippa Ballantine and Jennifer Povey. Kind of interesting because, though they both live in Northern Virginia, I’m not sure they’ve ever met. Their minds seem to think alike, though. Pip wrote earlier today about the incessant argument about which is better, art or commerce:

Here’s the truth of it. Many, many writers have had to walk away from writing, or even died while waiting for some commerce to come their way. My favourite poets died waiting to be paid for the work they did. (I always thought it was a cruel trick of fate that their best career move was shuffling off their mortal coil.) So yes, the people who make their living off writing do not have the luxury of waxing philosophical about art. They make it about work. Craft and passion are damn useful, but the writer is the master of words, the words are not the master of him or her. Art and passion are all very well, but books (at least the ones you plan to sell) must also be a commodity.

Jenna posted yesterday in a similar vein, but she focused on what writers should choose to write, i.e., writing something that appeals to the author vs. writing something the author believes will sell in the current market:

There’s nothing wrong with considering marketability when deciding what idea to work on next. Writing something you don’t enjoy because you think it will sell, though, is likely to produce a low quality book. Following a fad is just going to leave you behind. Write something you enjoy and make it as good as possible – there’s luck involved, of course, but you still have a better chance than by blindly following trends. Continue reading

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Pete Seeger

I was 15 years old when I heard a Pete Seeger album for the first time. Looking back on it, I think it’s kind of amazing that old-fashioned, conservative Afton, New York, a place that probably hasn’t elected a Democrat as mayor since the Civil War, actually had a Pete Seeger album in the high school library. I knew who he was from all the reading I’d done, but I’d never before heard the reedy voice accompanied by twelve-string guitar or plucky banjo.

The man was my grandparents’ age, but I was so enthralled by the music that I didn’t even notice. The voice and the songs were so genuine, so heartfelt, and so warm and inviting that they just captivated me. Whether he was leading a chorus of hundreds in We Shall Overcome or singing the Cuban popular song Guantanamera (hey, I thought, we sing that in chorus!), I loved them all. Continue reading

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Preview of My Latest Novel

I am in the midst of shopping my latest novel, tentatively titled And Ghosts Return, to literary agents. In the mean time, I thought I’d give you a taste of it by posting the first chapter. I’d love to hear what you think! Leave any comments you care to in the comments section. Here it is.

The lawn
Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn,
The sad intangible who grieve and yearn….

T.S. ELIOT, To Walter de la Mare

Chapter 1: Let’s Spend the Night Together

The bottle of Bordeaux popped from the wine rack and missed Ethan’s head by inches. Again. I hate poltergeists, he thought as he swung around to his right.

The wine cellar was so dark that he feared he wouldn’t see the shards of glass and spilt wine on the stone floor. The footing was already treacherous from the remains of the first bottle the spirit had tossed at him. He regretted wearing boots; sneakers might have given him a better grip.

“Who are you?” he called. When no reply came after several seconds, he added, “Are you Richard Masterson? Tap once if yes, twice if no.”

Still no reply. Continue reading

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Coping With Christmas Craziness

Home Alone

What do you mean, you don’t have any left in stock?!

So, we’re once again neck deep in the holiday season. I always feel like days this time of year come at me in a rush. In the space of just a few weeks, I have:

  • My sons coming home for Thanksgiving
  • Gathering with my family on Thanksgiving
  • Cutting down and setting up a Christmas tree
  • Saying goodbye to my boys again as they head back to college/law school
  • My brother’s birthday (he lives hours away from me, but it’s still something I mark every December)
  • My oldest son’s birthday
  • The monthly library board meetings
  • Annual events, such as parties, concerts, work events that always happen in December
  • Scrambling to come up with halfway decent gift ideas for the members of my family
  • Buying (or attempting to buy) said gifts
  • My sons come home again
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas
  • Saying goodbyes again
  • New Year’s Continue reading
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Go Red Sox!

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Support a Writer in Need

If you’ve listened to short fiction podcasts, you know the name Eugie Foster.

Eugie Foster

Podcastle, EscapePod, Pseudopod and The Drabblecast have aired more than 20 of her stories.  She’s lent her voice as a reader of other authors’ work on those shows as well. Her work has appeared in magazines and e-zines such as Helix, Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, and Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. One of my personal favorites is Daughter of Bótù which appeared in both Realms of Fantasy and Podcastle (I’ve embedded the mp3 of the podcast in this post; give it a listen). She has amassed an impressive list of awards, including a 2009 Nebula Award. Without question, she is a very gifted writer who spins mesmerizing tales.

She also has impressed me as very warm and professional. I’ve had the opportunity to see her on a number of panel discussions at Dragon*Con over the years, and her remarks are always thoughtful and informative. On a personal note, I spoke with her for a few minutes after a panel discussion at Dragon*Con 2012, and she couldn’t have been more gracious. We commiserated about the demise of Realms of Fantasy, and I think she may have even accepted a Purgatory bookmark from me. Continue reading

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The Geek Side of Life: Interview with Lauren Harris

Exorcising Aaron Nguyen
00:00:00 – It’s Dragon*Con week! … I have an unreleased episode ready to go
00:03:34 – Promo: Nutty Bites
00:04:05 – A chat with Lauren “Scribe” Harris about her new novella EXORCISING AARON NGUYEN
00:36:12 – Promo: The Way of the Buffalo
00:36:42 – Say hi to me at Dragon*Con!


Find Lauren online:

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A Good Lesson in Gratitude

This is an inspirational story of three survivors.

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