Merry Christmas!

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The last packages are wrapped, finally, and it’s time to go to bed. But first I want to wish everyone out there a wonderful, peaceful Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, and generally terrific weekend. Take care, everyone!

Odds & Ends

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A reader asked me to provide an update on Sunborn. I oblige, with a sigh. Progress: slow. Excruciatingly slow. I see many problems in the first draft, and I think I understand the problems pretty well. What I don’t understand (yet) is how to fix them. I’m working on it. If you think you’re frustrated as a reader, imagine what it’s like to be the author who’d hoped to have this book in print five years ago!

SciFi Wire just ran a very nice piece on In the day and a half since that story appeared, there have been over a thousand hits on the main page! And I received a nice note from someone who said he managed to avoid work for an entire day by going through the course from beginning to end! All right!! 🙂

I Take That Back

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Yesterday’s post, that is. You cannot read my comments at Ragnar Anchorage without registering there. So it goes. At some point, I may get around to copying the more substantial comments here.

But right now, I have to work on Sunborn. Stop distracting me, willya?

My Career in the Movies

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(Pops hits the streets.)

Well, I had my debut screen-acting job this morning, playing the part of “Pops the bum” in the short indie film, Children of the Streets, currently in production. It was great fun. (Though perhaps not quite as much fun as the part of “Joey,” who got to have two cute young hookers cozying up to him repeatedly as they did takes from different angles.)

I had about five lines, and I only blew them once. The producer called for an Academy Award for me, and I would be a fool to disagree. Especially since I’ll never hear those words again.

I thought this was going to be it, but they asked me to appear in one more scene, where a street kid gets shot. There was some talk that I might get shot, too, in a bit of collateral damage. But I think they were joking. (I think.)

Guess I need to let my beard continue to grow out scruffily.

Google’s Display of Pages

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I went as Tim suggested to I had no idea Google was doing this, though it appears pretty similar to what has been doing for a while. I have no fully formed opinion on the matter, but my gut reaction is, as long as they have some protections in place to prevent excessive downloading of copyrighted work, it’s probably a good thing. I mean, I put chapters of my books up on my web site in hopes that people will read them and become interested enough to want to read the whole book. This seems like one more way for someone to stumble across your work and maybe buy it, or at least read it. And the material, as I understand it, is supplied by the publishers.

The startling thing was seeing my brother’s book listed under a search of my own name. He’s Charles S. Carver, a psychology professor and coauthor of a well-regarded textbook in personality, as well as a scientific monograph, On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, published in 1998. I was surprised not just at seeing his book, but at seeing a reference to a quote from my novel Panglor in it. I’d completely forgotten that he’d quoted me in his work of serious science. But I pulled my copy of his book off the shelf, and yep, there it was, at a chapter head. That was kind of a cool rediscovery.

By the way, for the same reason I approve of this, I’m glad that used copies of my books are so readily available on the net. Even if it cuts out a few new sales (not that many, I’m guessing), it makes it easy for curious—or impecunious—readers to give my stuff a try. And it’s not as if the publishers are keeping the books in print forever. (The one place where this does grate is when I see Amazon listing used copies of a new book on the date of publication–or even before–which means people are selling off review copies. Still—that’s not as bad as finding one of your own books at a yard sale, with the cover torn off. That has happened to me.) Despite the occasional wince, though, I figure there’s generally no such thing as bad exposure.

Hurricane Katrina and America

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I haven’t written anything until now about the disastrous hurricane and the terrible aftermath because, truthfully, I didn’t know what to say about this horrific event that others haven’t already said better. But I received an email from an SF fan in Germany, lamenting the devastation and the apparently incompetence of federal officials in dealing with it—or in preparing for it in the first place.

My friend Tobias deserves an answer, so I’m going to write it here. The problem is knowing where to start. Maybe not by answering directly, but first by praising the heroism of those who have been putting their lives on the line in search and rescue operations, and maintaining order in the face of despicable violence—or by bowing my head to the suffering of those who waited far too long for aid, or who lost people they loved or everything they owned to the hurricane. Or maybe extending a hand of solidarity to the millions of people who, like my family, have tried to help their neighbors in need by contributing in whatever way seemed best, usually a cash donation to relief organizations. (I was perhaps most moved by reading that a gift of $3000 had been forwarded from the people of Honduras to the relief effort, people who have very little, and who gave anyway.)

But that doesn’t really answer Tobias, who said, “I see a president far away in Washington, DC who is completely overwhelmed with the situation… Where was FEMA and the national guard, the military?” Well, yeah. Much of the National Guard—and their equipment—is in Iraq, where they were sent on a pretext by their commander in chief. As for the president being overwhelmed, that’s not much of a surprise, given his overwhelming incompetence. We all remember his deer-in-the-headlight reaction to the news of 9/11, don’t we? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you really need to watch Fahrenheit 911, and watch the actual video footage of his paralysis when told of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. It’s frightening, it really is.)

Then there’s the head of FEMA, who didn’t know that there were a few thousand people trapped in the Superdome, and whose previous disaster management experience was in helping to run an Arabian horses association. And of course there’s the Bush administration’s recent cancellation of funds for improvement of the levee system around New Orleans. Not to mention the reversal of wetlands protections that had been put in place by earlier administrations. (Wetlands, in case you aren’t up on your estuarine science, help provide a shield against such things as devastating hurricanes.)

Tobias also says, “I wonder when USA will sign the Kyoto environmental protocol to stop the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for the warming of the atmosphere.” A lot of us wonder that, Tobias. I’m not sure we should necessarily blame this particular storm on global warming gases, but there’s little doubt that this sort of thing will only keep happening, and get worse, if the global community—in particular the U.S.—doesn’t start taking global warming seriously. So, Tobias, don’t be embarrassed to keep asking your American friends these questions. And we’ll keep asking our elected officials.

I keep telling myself, it’s got to change. The Bush people can only fool the voters for so long, until the people wake up to reality. This is my prayer. Please, God.

Blog Scum

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My last blog entry generated more than a dozen spam comments, most of them probably deposited by blog-prowling robot programs. Thank you, you jerks, for trying to ruin something that other people are supposed to enjoy.

Following advice from Blogspot, I have changed the comments settings to require “word verification” — meaning that you have to read a word in an image and type it in before you can leave a comment. I’m sorry, because this will be a pain for any of you wanting to leave comments. (A pain for me, too. I’m not exempt.) But it seems to be the only way to stop the scum spam robots.

. . . and I’m Taking the Cat

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Okay, I’ve survived a month of house guests (hi! very nice house guests!), home renovation, a new back yard construction project dreamed up by my wife and her dad, children who want to stay up all night “writing” (read, playing computer games), and a new, incomprehensible passion of my wife for somehow finagling a way to buy as “investment property” a house that’s laid out like something between Hogwarts and the Crooked House built by the Crooked Man. I have somehow managed to keep my sanity, though you could safely say that I haven’t gotten very much writing done during this time. But now…

Now, my daughter announces that she’s found a way to get free bagpipe lessons, and she wants to get on board. Bagpipe lessons!

That’s it. I can take no more. I’m acting on my long-standing threat.

I’m moving to a hotel—and I’m taking the cat.

Acting Footnote

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The irony of my little acting job, of course, is that I’m following in the footsteps of both my daughters. And for that matter, in the footsteps of my 7-year-old nephew Garrett, who recently appeared in a movie on the Hallmark Channel. And now I find (see comments, next entry down) that one of my fellow actors in the cast list is a friend and acting-buddy of my daughters. Do you suppose we’ll be discovered by a Hollywood agent?

They’rrrrre Gonna Put Me in the Moviiiies!

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They’re gonna make a big star out of me . . . All I have to do is act naturally. Which is true. Sort of.

The owner of the Regent Theater, where Bye Bye Birdie was performed, approached me after a rehearsal and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a short acting stint. Very short. It seems I look just right for a character in a small indie film he’s producing, based on a play he wrote (and which was performed at the theater) about teenage homelessness. I said, “Umm…” and he told me more. It would only take one day, because the character is just in one scene, and only has a few lines. “Well…” I said, and before I knew it I was in the cast. I joined in on the first read-through with the rest of the volunteer cast (which includes a couple of professional actors, some acting students, and some people like me). So now I’m trying to let the character percolate into my brain.

I’m playing Pops. A street bum.

I’ll definitely keep you posted on the progress of my career in film.

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