Saturday, July 28, 2007

Neurotic dogs we love

Holden and Shibori, our dog and Jennie's, are pets we love. They're both great dogs.

They're also both neurotic, though in different ways.

Shibori cannot stop herself from licking you. Let your hand dangle for a moment, and she'll find a way to lick you. It's all from love, but relax for a second and you'll have a slimy hand.

Holden hates thunderstorms. To console himself during one tonight, he groomed Shibori's head so much that she looked like an 80's punk dog and her hair felt almost rubbery. Though I can't encourage Holden in this pursuit, I have to say that the results are pretty darn funny. I do hope for his sake that her head tastes good.

Friday, July 27, 2007

National Chili Dog Day--and, oh yeah, my reading

According to our server at the Raleigh Hard Times Cafe at dinner after tonight's reading at Quail Ridge Books & Music (how's that for plugging two businesses before I've even hit the meat of the sentence), today was National Chili Dog Day. To a hot dog fan such as myself, this was excellent news indeed. The day improved further when the server explained that with every order of any size each person got a free chili dog. Hot jets! I enjoyed mine and the chili mac that was my main course. Yummy.

The earlier part of the evening marked my solo reading debut and was a great deal of fun for me. I thank the fine folks at QRB for hosting me (and for putting this big sign about me in their window). I hope I helped them sell copies of my book.

I also hope the audience had a good time. Sarah took blogcam in hand and captured a few happy snaps from the event. This first one shows the audience massing (but not yet at full strength; we ended up filling all the chairs). The crowd was much larger than I had dared hope. True, most of the folks were my friends, but I counted at least seven folks I didn't already know.

In this next photo, my friend, John Kessel, a fine SF writer and a Professor of English at North Carolina State University, is introducing me. He was most kind.

In this last photo--if you want more, I have them, but I thought I'd spare you in this post--I am standing and yakking. As you can almost certainly tell if you read this blog regularly, I tend to be extremely earnest, perhaps overly so; I was no different tonight. Despite that, everyone was very nice to me, and after the reading Scott leapt up and had me sign his copy of One Jump Ahead--while he shilled for it. Nice job, Scott!

I want to thank most of all my family and extended family and friends for coming out and supporting me. I'm very lucky.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

When will I learn?

Last night, as I was switching my brain from testing work to writing, I made the mistake of Googling my book and reading a few blog entries on it. Most were favorable, but I, of course, remembered and reacted to only the ones with negative comments. The comments struck me as generally wrong-headed and usually quite missing the point, but they stung nonetheless.

Nothing good comes from reading such things. My job is to write the best book I can each time out. Each other person gets to decide how he or she feels about the book. Reading reviews--professional or fan--does nothing to help me write a better book, and it can definitely bring me down.

You'd think I'd have learned this lesson by now.

Bad writer. No cookie.

Back to Slanted Jack.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stupid software tricks

I own an iPhone. No, I didn't wait in line for it on the Friday it went on sale, but I did pick it up that Sunday. In many ways, most ways, it's quite exceptional, and I quite like it.

Yesterday, I received an email message on it that contained a string, a long complex string, that I wanted to save in a different place. No problem, right? You just copy and paste the string.

Wrong. As best I can find, you can't copy (or cut) and paste on the iPhone.

How stupid is that?

Apple, release an update now!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Turning the corner

I think I may finally have turned the corner out of the dread on Slanted Jack and into the dark start of the tunnel, the other end of which glows with the light of a completed first draft. I may be wrong, of course--I won't know for another week or so--but it feels now like I can see the end. I still have a huge amount to write, but at least there is a light.

Not big news to most, I understand, but I'm quite excited.

Beach stuff will follow soon, as time permits.

Monday, July 23, 2007


True story.

I walk up to the rental agency to turn in the keys to the beach house. A guy is standing on the steps outside the door, clearly eager to go inside but trying to wait patiently. I lean to the side so I can see around him. A brunette woman in a white dress is studying with great concentration some travel folders that the rental agency has unfortunately put in the corner right next to the door. The man can't open the door without hitting her.

Through the glass, I hear a male voice, "Rita, move!" I can't spot its source.

The woman in white steps forward into the corner. She never turns to either side, so all I can see is her profile.

The man ahead of me opens the door, and we both enter the agency. We join the check-out line, which fortunately at the moment is just a single guy.

The pleasant agent working the desk thanks him for his business, and he leaves. The guy in front of me steps forward, and she greets him as nicely as she dispatched the previous customer. I stay back a few steps; no point in invading their privacy.

A few seconds later, I hear a male voice, which inside the small building is quite booming. "Rita, move!"

I glance behind me in time to see Rita step forward into the corner of the building. She again turns neither left nor right, so I see only her rear, which is unremarkable. The renter exits the building and three more people take the opportunity to enter at the same time.

The man in front of me finishes and leaves. I step forward, hand over my key, and wait for it.

Sure enough, in a few seconds a male voice booms, "Rita, move!"

I check all around me, but I can't spot anyone obviously watching Rita.

The rental agent declares everything hunky dory, so I thank her and head for the door.

Rita is blocking it, still intent on the vacation brochures.

I turn to scan the building, but before I can make it all the way around, the voice booms out, "Rita, move!" For a moment I consider standing my ground, making the voice tell me to move, finally learning its source, but I quickly abandon the notion; I've come to love the whole idea of Rita and the voice.

I leave.

As I walk back to my idling car and the three friends waiting inside, I glance back over my shoulder.

Rita is standing in front of the door.


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