"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." - Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Melbourn's Storm" to Appear in LORE Magazine

Some of you already know this, but some of you don’t: my short story, “Melbourn’s Storm” will be published in the September 2012 issue of LORE magazine.

That makes that my first paid professional fiction sale. And yeah, I’m pretty over-the-moon happy about it.

Not this issue. The next one. 
But instead of strutting around and crowing about what a great job I did on this magnificent piece of literature… I’d rather thank the many people who took time and effort to help me turn this slightly odd piece of dark fantasy fiction into what it is now.

“Melbourn’s Storm” gave me fits and nearly drove me around the bend, but in the end I was lucky. I had friends who read the different versions, offered feedback and criticism, and gave me instructions on how to improve it. I always said I’d thank them, and this seems the best way to do it.

First of all, thanks to the members of North County Writers of Speculative Fiction, who were the first folks I shared the story with – and who immediately put me to work improving it:  Meghan “M.O.” Muriel, Rilan White, Stephen Prosapio, Melinda Layden, Linda Lee Franson, Gregg Pirazzini, and Alix Lamb.

Secondly, I want to thank both Tony Durham and Casey Oliver for being the first folks on this blog to say, “That’s pretty good, but…” This was only Tony’s first help with this, and Casey remains the one online-only friend who offered to help.

Thirdly, I have to give a huge “Thank You!” to several folks who beta read the story when I had completely frozen up – unable to finish corrections and fix the problems that existed inside it:  John David Carter, Jim Griffith, Jim Case, Glen MacDougal, Laura Brooks, Tony Durham, Leif Hassell, and Tom Beck.

Lastly, I need to think Liza Smith. Because it is she who puts up with me muttering and cussing as I write, growling as I delete details, reciting lines of dialogue again and again until I’m satisfied. It is she who lets me occasionally hijack entire conversations to seek her advice on what design a door should be, on the spelling of a character’s name, or on whether or not that much-parroted line of dialogue actually makes sense.

I also need point out that these hijacked conversations usually occur at relatively unimportant times – like while we’re traveling by car on vacation, at a restaurant out for dinner, spending time with friends, or about three minutes after she’s just fallen asleep.

I’ll probably never do this again; it seems odd to do so. But from the bottom of my ink-stained heart, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for giving me that kind word or kick in the pants I needed at just the right time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mass Murder - Wisconsin Sikh Temple

From End Apathy's MySpace page
The murderer this time was Wade Michael Page, a 40-year old US Army veteran, white supremist, and neo-Nazi. He killed 6 people, and critically wounded 3 (as of now) -- including one police officer -- in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Page was apparently a member of at least one skinhead/neo-Nazi group, End Apathy.

This charming man almost certainly acquired his firearms and ammunition legally -- and very likely referred to himself as a "responsible gun owner."

I remain steadfast in my belief that it's time that we take the first step in enabling these psychotic jackasses to murder peaceful strangers in churches, restaurants, malls, theaters, and schools, simply by taking away the tools that they use to commit these murders.

Go ahead and read this...

Mother Jones' Mass Shooting Map and Timeline

And remember! While you're reading that, please thank God that there was a "responsible gun owner" with a conceal-and-carry permit on hand to stop each and every damn murder.

Or remember that the only "responsible gun owner" on the premises was the murderous thug who killed all those people.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guns, Murderers, Armchair Warriors, and Other Bullshit.

I’ve owned guns before. I’ve fired them at targets, and down in the old creek beds, and out in the quarries. And I’ve taken the safety courses. You know, the ones that “responsible gun owners” claim gives them the right to carry concealed handguns, “pack heat” in a crowded office, and somehow anoints them with the ability to know exactly when and where to open fire on a bad guy, thus saving the lives of everyone else and (conveniently) getting them maximum prime-time coverage on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.
Responsible gun owner?

Those safety courses? Yeah, they’re jokes. “This is the trigger. This is the hammer. This is where the bullets go. This is the pointy end. Don’t point it at anyone unless you mean to shoot them with it. Or want to impress them. Or want to impress yourself. Or want to show off your dick size. Or just goddamn feel like it. Okay, everybody, sign here and let me write up your passports for a better, heavily armed future!”

Yes, I am dismissing them outright. They’re pathetic. 

I owned a pistol into my 20s. At one point I got rid of it and never quite felt the urge to get another. As I aged, the world got uglier. Columbine. Jonesboro, Arkansas – my birthplace, where elementary school kids opened fire on fellow students. Pearl, Mississippi – four miles from where I lived at the time. I felt less and less inclined to tolerate a firearm.

Then there was the massacre at Virginia Tech. While listening to the coverage on NPR, I had my epiphany: it takes a disturbed or evil person to shoot up a school, but it takes them having a gun to do it. 

Now we have James Holmes murdering a theater full of people there to see the newest Dark Knight movie. And literally as events are unfolding, conservatives and gun nuts are howling: “Don’t you dare politicize this!”

In a nutshell: fuck you.

This is political. This is about Americans’ rights to not be murdered in class, or in a movie, or on a playground, or in the streets. 

I’ve heard all the arguments, and I’m sick of them. I’m sick of hearing people defend mass murderers, all in the name of “freedom.” So I’m just going to say this.

I don’t care how you twist the Constitution around. It’s been changed to stand up for the times. As it was written, it also prevented women from voting and blacks from being citizens. We changed that crap because we knew it was crap. However, the “strict Constitutionalists” insist on trying to hold onto their guns due to a half-understood, half-sentence in that document.

And I don’t believe that if you’d been there and you’d had a legal, concealed weapon in your waistband, that you’d have been able to stop him. It is the height of hubris to think that you could. So many of these armchair warriors seem to think that a gun is a magic wand – and they’ll automatically win. Base stupidity. This guy was dressed in tactical armor heavy enough to hold off most cops. Instead, I suspect that 99.9% of the people that wanted to have a weapon there would have killed bystanders and probably gotten themselves killed as well. Furthermore, I expect that the actual .1% of the people who were trained and qualified to actually take out this guy are probably glad they never had to do it.

Lastly, I want to say this. I hear again and again and again about outlawing guns being a “slippery slope toward giving up your other freedoms.”

Bullshit. Total, complete, utter bullshit.

The slippery slope argument almost never stands up, but in this case it’s the fact that the gun nuts have it wrong. Owning a gun in America in these times is the position on the slippery slope. Your insistence on owning a firearm is the slippery slope leading to your right to own that gun being more important than my right to be safe in public.

On second thought, that’s not even a slippery slope anymore. That’s where we are.

Call me what you want. Believe what you want. But I believe it’s time that we joined the 21st century and the rest of the world in getting rid of these terrible killing machines. And if you still want to have them, hold them, carry them, and love them, then I might suggest that Sudan is closer to your mindset than the civilized world is.