Monday, February 28, 2011

New Friends, New Beta-Reading

Recently, Pendragon Variety had its first twitter chat (Tuesdays 9-10pm EST #pvpchat), and through that I was honored to talk to many of our listeners who are also other writers. It was totally awesome! Of course, "Friends" is a strong term for any one I've just met, but it made the title sound cooler. The point is that through social networking, I've just met numerous writers who might someday work on a project with me, or beta read for me, or at least re-tweet my blog posts. I love meeting other writers because you never know who will help you with what, or who you might help.

Now, you may have noticed that I used that obnoxious phrase, social networking. The phrase is obnoxious because it's used by many different people to mean many different things, but for every one I think it at least means this: not living under a rock. To me it further means making real connections with some of the people that you meet when you step out from under your rock. Real connections don't necessarily mean becoming best friends, but it does mean that you both give and take. You put out your writing, but you also read other people's. You respond to their questions. You pass on the things you enjoyed to others in your network. You ask so-and-so if they'd be interested in one of your projects, and you don't throw a hissy fit if they say no. In other words you treat people like people, and you yourself do not act like a mindless twitter bot.

And you Beta Read. Beta reading is an exchange unique to writers that requires both the writer and the beta reader to put themselves out there. Feelings might get hurt and miscommunication might abound. But hey, we're writers, so we can handle miscommunication, right? Right? In all honestly, I've rarely had a problem with beta reading, from either end. In fact, I'd like to mention a few of the authors I beta read for. Proof, after all, that I do not live under a rock.

David Barron - I met David Barron through twitter/Pendragon Variety and read his short story An Aesop Admist the Fairy Dust which you can find on Amazon. In fact, you can find the story and others by him for purchase in several different places, so I'll send you to his blog where you can find links to them all: An Aesop Admist the Fairy Dust is about poor Hard Luck Charley unknowingly trying to run his pizza shop in the middle of fairy mob territory. That's right. I said fairy mob. This one is definitely a comedy, and many of his other works have at least a touch of comedy to them.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt - I learned about Bryan Thomas Schmidt through the Pendragon Variety chat and fell immediately in love with the premise of his space opera novels. The first, The Worker Prince, is scheduled to come out this year. The second, The Returning, I'm delighted to be beta-reading. His writing blog is

L. "Scribe" Harris - Scribe is the editor of Pendragon Variety and an old high school friend of mine. I've been beta reading her epic fantasy, Markmasters trilogy, and I'm always biting my nails waiting for the next chapter. Visit her blog at

I've also done beta reading for authors who aren't yet ready to announce their projects to the world yet, but I can't wait until they are, so I can post about them here! Now to get back to beta reading...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Question for Writers: Emotional or Physical Trauma?

The climax of the story will probably involve both physical and emotional challenges for your protagonist. She'll likely face death and the knowledge that she failed to save her son. He'll likely face torture and the inability to warn his comrades that the enemy is coming. That sort of thing.

But for the rest of the story, for all those little bumps in the road that accumulate against your protagonist, do you focus on physical or emotional threats? If you could only utilize one kind, which would you chose?

How does the genre impact your decision? Romantic comedies are usually sans explosions, while action-adventure usually simplify getting the girl. So, would you rather write the guy who feels guilty because he betrayed his ally, or the gal who has to escape kidnappers?

Feel free to answer/ramble in the comments. If the question inspires a Flash Friday or something similar, feel free to link to your story in the comments and please link back to here on the applicable webpage.

Ready. Set. GO.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flash Friday #5: The Sins of the Mother

The steel visor hummed as I placed it over my eyes and hooked the ends over my ears. My gaze happened to drift up towards the clouds, and there I saw my first spirit creature, erasing all doubts. It was larger than the largest castle, and rotund, with dozens of wings and a head like a lizard's. The spirit inflated as it sucked in a breath, then deflated as it puffed out clouds. The clouds, in turn, became a playground for hundreds of small serpentine spirits, and their flight shaped the gigantic puffs.

I gathered my wits enough to say, "I see them."

Piotr cleared his throat. "Good, Sire. Now look over there."

I followed his gesture towards the Mount Ola in the distance. Famed for being the birthplace of our foremother, the mountain was revered, but in all my life nothing important had gone into or come from it. Not that I could see, anyway.

Now I saw the fabled King of the Mountain, Ola's father. He was large enough to swallow us mortals whole, and he had horns, and donkey hooves, just like the ancient texts warn. The demon stood on mount Ola and below him spread a sea of smaller demons, too indistinct to describe at such a distance, and too many to count. Was it as the prophesies said? Did he conspire to capture his errant daughter and her offspring?

I swallowed past the knot of fear in my throat. There was no denying it now, no hoping that Piotr had finally lost his mind. "Call the generals... And the priests."

Piotr smiled wickedly, the smile that I had always thought meant that he had tricked me somehow. "Yes, Sire."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TNG Ep 9: The Battle

Suspiciously, the Ferengi are being nice to the Enterprise and return a derelict vessel, the Stargazer, to it's old captain, Picard. While the Enterprise waits, Picard develops mysterious headaches that later turn out to be the Ferengi's fault. Of course everyone knows that something has to be up, especially when DaiMon Bok refuses to charge money for the ship's return. Even his subordinates look taken aback and later arrest him for engaging in an profitable adventure after it is discovered that the DaiMon has planted a mind control device on the Stargazer. DaiMon Bok uses the device to trick Picard into reliving "The Battle of Maxia," thus firing on the USS Enterprise from the Stargazer as if she is the unidentified Ferengi ship that long ago attacked Picard and his former crew. The DaiMon's son died in that attack, as the DaiMon informs Picard right before his plans come to fruition. Picard fires on the Enterprise, but Riker, knowing the exact maunever that Picard had and will use, is able to deflect the attack, snap Picard out of his trance, and bring the episode to a close as the Ferengi ship skitters off with it's tail between it's legs.

You know what I like about this episode? Ferengi. Real Ferengi, not the jokes we've seen hitherto. This time the Ferengi are clever and at least one of them shows some kind of value system. Even in their demonized ultra-capitalist society, they have certain inviolate rules. Rules such as, don't control the thoughts of others. I mean, jeez. It's one thing to trick someone into buying something that they shouldn't, and quite another to voodoo mind control your enemy into killing his crew.

Even though I liked this episode, I have to point out a few major flaws. Near the end, Riker can't save the captain because the sheilds are up, making beaming useless, yet the Ferengi captain beams through the shield to save his own skin. Do the Ferengi have super awesome beaming technology? Most likely, this is just a plot hole. It's sad if it's so big that even I notice.

Also, since when does the Intruder Alert go off just because a ship is approaching? At least this inconsistency is just annoying. It was nice, though, that Picard caught that Wesley was showing off by coming up to the bridge to warn them instead of using the comm. I like Wesley and all, but kids can be dumb like that.

And, magically, this is the one time that Troi can sense anything from a Ferengi mind, not that what she senses is incredibly useful ("deception").

Lastly, security checks out Picard's old ship before they'll even let him board, but they don't inspect the luggage that he has brought over from there? I guess we can blame Worf and Tasha's for that one. Woopsie.

So, ignore all that when I tell you that this episode is great. Mind control devices and reliving the past are both win-win in my book. Both Picard and the Ferengi needed this boost of character development. We get to see a tough, smart decision Picard had to make when he was Riker's age, we get to see Riker act as captain, and we get to see a Ferengi do the right thing by arresting his mind-controling superior. Like I said. Win-win...-win.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Proposal for Indie Authors: Update!

I’m excited about the support and interest I received for my post: Proposal for Indie Authors. Interest is so great, in fact, that “I” is already “we” and we even have a name:

Pendragon Express*

Are you part of the we that makes up Pendragon Express? That’s up to you! I expect that the more people that hear about our new venture, the bigger we will become, and right now there are lots of different ways that you can help us if you support our mission.

Our Mission: To increase distribution of independent titles by making them available at conventions around the US.

If you read the first post, perhaps you gathered that already, but I do so like seeing it stated all concise and official-like. Now, to expand upon that. There are two metaphorical arms that will make up Pendragon Express and work together towards accomplishing our mission. Basically: Authors and Small Presses, and Sellers and Distribution Organizers. I’d like to outline for you our plan so far for how both arms will work.

Authors and Small Presses
As all who work in independent publishing know, you spend a lot of time and effort marketing and distributing your work to reach niche markets. We love you for that and we’d like to do more than just applaud your work from the sidelines. By pooling our resources, we believe that we can help you increase your exposure with no more cost to yourselves than you are already putting into other methods of distribution.

What we will provide: We will arrange for the booth, display equipment, labor, and much of the organization required to sell at conventions, fairs, and other events that might otherwise be inaccessible to you as a single author or small press.

What we need from you: We need you to provide the hard copies of your book(s), including shipping, to the convention(s) of your choice. We’d also love it if you included flyers and other promotional material. We will attempt to minimize your shipping costs by efficiently organizing our sellers between conventions. Meaning, you send copies of your book to one person and your book travels to several events for that year. To make all of this possible, we will also take a cut of the profit to cover the overhead mentioned above.

Are we out to make money? No. We are doing this for our love of independent publishing. If we were wealthy, we’d pay for all the tables, all the hotel rooms, and all the labor ourselves. Just like if you were wealthy, you’d print a large run of your books and pay the big book stores to distribute them. As it is, we must take a cut of the sales in order to provide you with a continuing business model - in other words, so that we can do this more than once and still eat that month. And, just as you labor for free to Get the Word Out, most of our labor will also be pro bono. Our cut goes towards paying for the dealer’s table and compensating our sellers.

Sellers and Distribution Organizers
We are also looking for people interested in the distribution and sales end of Pendragon Express. Without somebody standing at the booth, the books will not sell. Selling at a convention can be a wonderful experience for outgoing, passionate people interested in business or in our particular niche of publishing. Not only will you learn about and meet people involved in independent publishing through our organization, but you’ll meet all sorts of convention attendees who might share other interests with you. You’ll also, of course, gain experience with sales - both the pitch part and the display and organization part.

Who we’re looking for: We are looking for people who enjoy attending conventions, fairs, and other events where genre books can be sold. When we imagine our perfect seller, we imagine someone who attends one or more conventions, fairs, and other events every year (when possible) just for the love of attending those events. If you are already planning on going and are familiar with a convention, you’ll better be able to handle any hiccups that come your way. (“The event staff gave me the wrong table!”) You’ll also know how to arrange your time so that you can still enjoy the parts of the convention that you look forward to participating in that year. If you’re an experienced convention goer interested in attending new conventions, that’s great, too. It is unlikely that your compensation from Pendragon Express will cover all of your transportation, food, and other associated costs, so it is important that you chose to sell at events that you are personally interested in.

What we need from you: We need you to, most importantly, keep track of money and any merchandise we send you, as well as detailed records of what is sold, so that we may pay our authors and compensate you. We need you to keep track of when (and where) you need to show up, whether you are setting up the booth or taking over for another seller. We need you to inform us ahead of time of how much time you are willing to spend at the booth. Ideally, we’ll have at least two sellers at any event, even the smallest ones, so let us know which programs you wish to attend away from the booth. We need you to arrange for your own transportation and hotel room, if a hotel room is needed for you to attend. We need you to read over any information we send you regarding our authors, their works, and any thing else we expect you to sell or display. We need you to smile at customers and be willing to hold conversations with potential customers when appropriate. Basically, we need you to be friendly and responsible.

What we will provide: We will purchase the seller’s table, whether it be in the artist’s alley or the dealer’s room; or, at a fair, inside or outside. We’ll let you know if you need to purchase a badge in order to attend. We will facilitate the transfer of books to you or to the convention and give you the information you need to set up, sell well, and keep our accounting in order. We will also provide some display materials depending on where you are selling and the space available. We plan to put together digital displays that can be run on a laptop if electricity is available at your table, and to organize various business cards, fliers, and other freebies to help draw interest to your table. We will provide you with as much information as possible about our authors, their works, and any thing else we expect you to sell or display. We will compensate you for your time from our cut of sales at that convention. If sales are dismal because of a poorly run convention or low attendance, and if we have surplus funds from other conventions and donations, we will supplement your cut as possible. We value your time. We keep NO money for ourselves. Any funds go back into Pendragon Express, to our sellers and to cover tables and other overhead.

If you like our mission, there are so many ways you can help support us, both big and small! Please email us and consider joining us for future skype or aim discussions where you can have an impact on how Pendragon Express will be run. We want your opinions, and your ideas. Most of all, we want to share the excitement!


There's not much up at the website right now, but that's because we don't want to make too much of the ins-and-outs official before you get a chance to add your feedback - so please do! By email or in the comments below.

*The name: We’ve named Pendragon Express after a podcast known as Pendragon Variety (.com). The Pendragon Variety podcast features round table discussions related to writing and reading of genre fiction, as well as author interviews and short fiction from around the ‘net. Not only do we like the name Pendragon (obviously) but we feel that these two projects are so strongly related that they should be considered as part of the same, larger organization of fiction lovers and independent authors. Because this organization is larger than Pendragon Variety, it is not necessary that you have participated in or even heard about the podcast in order to participate in Pendragon Express.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Question for Writers: Very Alien Aliens, or No?

Usually in science fiction, if aliens are going to be our enemies, they're very unlike us in appearance, language, and social mores. If they're going to be our friends, they look like us with pointed ears. The same thing happens in fantasy often enough - again with the pointed ears versus bat-like demons and so forth.

Lets say your aliens, or your fae, or what have you, are going to be fairly neutral. They aren't going to blow us up, but they aren't going to kiss us either. So what kind of aliens would you want? How much would they be like us? They'd have to have something in common with us, for instance a desire not to be blown up, but how far would you take that?

Feel free to answer/ramble in the comments. If the question inspires a Flash Friday or something similar, feel free to link to your story in the comments and please link back to here on the applicable webpage.

Ready. Set. GO.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post: Doom and Short Story Collections

Today I'm honored to have Andrew Jack from Andrew Jack Writing. I follow Andrew on twitter (@ajackwriting) and was delighted to hear that he was writing this post regarding changes in publishing. Below, Andrew delves past the abstract and recommends independently published books for your consumption. Without further ado:

Doom and Short Story Collections

I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now. [singing] Gir: Doom doom doom...

  • GIR, Invader Zim (2001)

Are we all doomed?

Listening to the news and various writing blogs it certainly sounds like it. Book sales are down, major book stores are going out of business, I can’t find my shoes…

It’s like the world of publishing is falling down and it’s falling on authors. How can we expect to make a living slinging words when the publishing world is heaving like a dragon in its last throes?

I’ve spoken about this before but the myth of publishing’s demise is a persistent one. Publishing isn’t dying, but it is changing.

Sure, if you’re determined to cling to the ideal of doing nothing but writing, and leaving everything else to publishers and agents you might be in for a hard time* but it’s not like people have stopped reading, it’s just that the way books are read and sold is changing.

No force in the ‘verse can stop it.

But we can ride the wave. We are already seeing a major shift towards authors being the primary promotional force behind their work and that’s going to become the norm. Not that publishers won’t market your stuff, but if you can successfully build a following before you’re published it will make your book more attractive to publishers.**

As authors we can also look at the emerging opportunities offered by e-books. I’m not saying you have to rush out a fifty book back list or devote your entire soul to self publishing, but at least check it out and see if the time and the toil is something you’re prepared to do.

One way of dipping your toe in the black waters of self publishing is by putting out a book of your own short stories.

Making the massive assumption that the stories are good, and you pay to have the cover designed by someone who knows what they’re doing, it can be a positive step for your career.

I plan to do this later this year, but for now if you’d like to look at a couple of excellent collections I have two you can’t go past (especially since they’re $2.99).

I’ve ranted on about Chuck Wendig’s excellent Irregular Creatures as a good example of a well done self published short story collection. I can also highly recommend James Melzer’s horror collection The Other Side as a great example of just how good a self published collection can be.

It’s worth noting that James and his wife Jenny are two of the nicest people out there in publishing, they both talked to me a lot on Twitter when I was a complete newbie and asking stupid questions, so anything you can do to help them out I would appreciate immensely.

You’ll get a damn good book too. Melzer has real skill when it comes to the rhythm of his stories. If you can’t wait you can pick up The Other Side from Amazon here and from Smashwords here.

The Other Side isn’t for the faint of heart. If you and the macabre don’t get on this is probably not the book for you.

That said, it’s macabre gone awesome. In fact I like it so much I’m going to give away a copy. Tell me, what are you afraid of? It can be in real life or in fiction. Let me know in the comments.

I’ll pick a winner in 24 hours and that winner will get their choice of format of The Other Side.

* Write a really great book and you might still be okay, but this is starting to look less and less likely.

** Bear in mind that your book still has to be good, a great platform but a terrible book is probably not going to make it. There are exceptions but why not have everything working in your favour?


To enter the contest, comment on this post here at Andrew Jack Writing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TNG Ep 8: Justice

The USS Enterprise has found an Eden-like planet which, surprise, tries to kill one of their crew members, namely Wesley. It's really Tasha's fault, as she claims to have researched the laws and customs of the Edo, but misses both the rule about forbidden areas, and that the punishment for every crime is death. Also, there's a super race hovering above the planet who warn the Enterprise not to interfere with their "children." The Edo agree to hold off on killing Wesley until sundown, and Picard chides the super race until the Enterprise is allowed to take Wesley off of the planet.

Nooooo, not Wesley! But then, when Picard said that Wesley was coming with them to the planet, I knew that something terrible would happen to him. That's kinda like Kirk sending a red shirt (note: some of the officers on TNG wear red shirts!), only with slightly less death. Knowing that the episode will be about Wesley, naturally, ensures my fondness from the beginning. Also, half-naked men and women. Ha ha!

How Wesley gets in trouble is a bit ridiculous. Actually, the laws and customs mistake I can deal with, because I can see how Tasha was busy checking out the oh-so-available hunks during her "research." what I don't understand is why forbidden areas are surrounded by an extremely low, easily missed fence. Wesley barely lifts an ankle to fall over one of these "fences". Pft. I guess we wanted whatever Wesley did to be unmistakeable not his fault, so that we could feel sorry for the boy and his mother. It sure worked on me, and I loved this episode because of it.

In fact, my favorite part about this episode is that they throw the Prime Directive out the window. Actually, they do that from the beginning by beaming down to a place that doesn't even have warp technology yet, but I don't mean that. That's just a bit of lazy writing - Kirk always beamed down just out of sight and then insisted that he was grom "very far away" which, you know, totally works. Anyway, I like the part that they want you to notice, which is when Picard decides that the Prime Directive can go cry in a corner if it means letting an innocent die. (Nevermind the probable murder of the Selay official in the last episode. He's not nearly as blameless as Wil Wheaton - I mean, Wesley.)

Data: Will you chose one life over one thousand, Sir?
Picard: I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that.

Take that, Spock logic! (No, no, I love Spock! And he sacrificed himself, not a boy, so it's different!)

Anyway, they get out of the whole mess by pointing out that laws shouldn't be absolute, which is another good take-away quote from the episode. Try using either out of context in your day-to-day conversations, unless you're talking about your math homework, of course.

Your Mom: If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!
You: There can be no justice as long as laws are absolute!

Thanks, Picard, for finally saying something smart.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Become a Part of a New Spec Fic Ezine

When my friend Luis asked me if I wanted to be part of a new spec fic e-zine, I knew I'd say yes even though I was in the middle of packing up my family's apartment to move, nursing an infant with an ear infection, and preparing to go to Florida for my grandfather's impending death. It didn't matter that it was bad timing because I wanted in.

Luis, Eileen, and Adam are the kind of people who are always improving the writing communities they're apart of, whether that be by podcasting poetry critiques or designing indepth prompts to challenge their fellow writers. I knew that an e-zine run by people like that could be what I'd say right next to "I'm a writer" when I introduce myself. "Hi, I'm a writer and I help run Theory Train Magazine." Yes, I wanted in on this project at its start, and I knew that after life settled down I might even write rambling blog posts about how I'm part of this new e-zine that you should submit a story or poem to at (See what I did there?).

I'm already glad that I'm part of Theory Train. I love experiencing the other side of publishing. It's one thing to understand theoretically that publishers have to be ruthless in what they accept or reject, and quite another to actually have that on your shoulders. We want Theory Train to be a magazine you can be proud to be published in. We want readers to sample our featured poetry and prose and decide that this is a publication worth reading. We want you all to be excited enough to tell your friends about it.

And the best part? From where I'm sitting, the best part is that this is just the beginning. We have our first issue out and are accepting submissions for our second. These first issues are your chance, as writers, to help define the magazine in terms of quality and diversity from the beginning. Those who submitted to the first issue have done us a great service by giving us pieces that we can show the world and say, "This is what we want." You could do the same by submitting now - or, say you're very busy, like I was when Luis first asked me - come back any time before the May 1st deadline to show your support for the second issue.

For readers, your feedback is essential to the future of the magazine. Whether you have comments about the site's look, navigation, or of course, content, feel free to post them here, on the Theory Train website, or contact theory train (at) gmail dot com. We know our stuff, but part of knowing our stuff is recognizing that it is you, the readers, that we aim to please. We can't tailor our e-zine to fit our readers if you don't tell us your opinion.

Lastly, if you have experience reviewing genre fiction, we'd love to talk to you about reviewing our magazine on your blog or on where our issues are sold. Because we're new, nobody knows about us yet. Help us change that. Email theory train (at) gmail dot com to ask about the paid content we're giving away for free to a limited number of reviewers and others who can help promote the e-zine.

"Hi, I'm part of Theory Train Magazine. Oh, you've heard of it? Great! I'm in their latest issue with my story..."

This is the future, people! Go forth and make it so!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Question for Writers: Too Tall or Too Short?

Would you rather write a character that had too much of an attribute, or two little?

Say that in your story the characters keep needing to get items off of high shelves. (Work with me here.) Would you rather have a protagonist that can easily reach the items and be the go-to hero, or one that has to get a ladder or ask for help each time?

Or, lets go with smarts, since smarts are pretty important in our society. That's what Flowers for Algernon was all about. Would you rather have the character that has to struggle to figure out what other people are saying, or the one who has trouble connecting emotionally because he's just that much smarter than everyone else?

You get the underdog affect one way, but the other way you get McGyver. Chose, but chose wisely.

Feel free to answer/ramble in the comments. If the question inspires a Flash Friday or something similar, feel free to link to your story in the comments and please link back to here on the applicable webpage.

Ready. Set. GO.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TNG Ep 7: Lonely Among Us

While delivering some undignified dignitaries to Parliament, the USS Enterprise encounters an energy cloud that deposits a sentient being into their computer systems. It takes the crew the entire episode to figure this out because they are distracted by the Anticans and Selay having a blood feud on their ship and because Dr. Crusher apparently considers an hour of memory loss an everyday occurrence. Luckily for them the energy being takes over Picard and recaps everything they've missed. The energy being and Picard become one, beam themselves into the energy cloud, where their union dissolves itself, leaving Picard floating out in space wondering what the heck. Riker almost abandons the captain before Troi senses Picard's presence. When they beam Picard back using hocus pocus transporter magic, he doesn't remember anything except how annoying the feuding aliens are. Tasha comes to report that one of the Selay have probably been murdered, but whatever. The end!

Theoretically I liked this episode. Energy beings! Identity fusion! Troi acually being useful!

In practice, I thought the episode made all the characters look stupid, and then I felt stupid for not realizing that the Anticans and the Selay were just comic relief. I mean, there's comic relief, and then there's letting them get away with murder, right? The Enterprise crew does not care that one of the Selay has probably been murdered by an Antican at the end of the episode. I guess that's because it wasn't one of their crew members - oh wait! They don't care about that either. All they want is to get the episode over with so that they can get the heck outta dodge and get the Anticans and Selay off of their ship.

But the biggest problem with this episode is not even the uncharacteristic handling of the alien dignitaries. The problem is that the only real mystery for the viewer is how these two parties are thwarting the awesome security of the Enterprise to eat each other. The energy being is not a surprise because we get to see everything about it, while the crew doesn't. This leaves you shouting at the crew to stop ignoring their sudden memory loss and figure it out already. I also had the misfortune of guessing that the energy being was peaceful because it handled Beverly so much better than it handled Worf. On the same principle, not really sure why it killed the next guy, but then achieved perfect fusion with Picard. Whatever. We all make mistakes, right? Fry up a Selay dignitary here, fry an Enterprise officer there...

Lastly, I thought it was a bit of a cop-out that Picard didn't remember anything even though his fusion worked better than the others. Does no one feel even the slightest bit betrayed that energy-captain-Picard abandoned them so gleefully?

energy-Picard: So long, suckers!

5 minutes later...
Riker: Oh thank goodness you're back, Picard! I might have had to marry Troi!

So, I didn't like this episode. The best part about it was that it had the guts to kill off an officer. Consider this entry as me pouting. It looks like:

Aw. Did you spot that one tear trickling down his face?

That's ok, though. I see that the next episode has half-naked men and women in it, and my dad assures me that it is "the best worst episode ever," meaning that I will love it. Yeeeeeeessss...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Playground Woes

(The title should be read thusly; playground woooOOoooes!)

The bully.

I'm sure bullies on the playground are common, but for me, being a first-time parent, it was a new thing that I didn't immediately know how to handle. Most parents I meet are fairly attentive and have a discipline system that works for their kid.

This parent was not paying even attention, which meant that I had to pay extra attention. Harrumph. Her younger child was C's age, around the 1 1/2 to 2 age with similar physical and verbal development. So naturally C approaches the boy wanting to play. The boy gives him a shove and runs off. His older sister tries to tell on him, but their mom isn't listening and replies with, "that's nice."

I look at the other parents like, did that really just happen? But of course they are all absorbed n their mom conversations and their own kids. I decide I'd better keep both eyes on my kid around this little boy.

Soon after, the boy tells C "no" and shoves him off of the lower step of the slide. I raise my voice then and tell the boys sternly, "Play nice." The kid gives me a whatever look and runs off on his merry way.

Not five minutes later, another mean shove, but this time Mom sees. Thank goodness, I think as she draws her boy to the side... To talk sweetly to him. The word "no" never leaves her mouth. The kid is 1 1/2. He's not going to understand that he did something wrong unless you tell him so. The worst part, though, is that the mom immediately goes back to reading, instead of paying attention to see if her boy continues to shove.

Which, of course, he does. About that time I realize that while I'm sitting here mentally criticizing the other mom, I'm failing my kid. I don't want C learning that his mommy lets other kids bully him and he has to stand up for himself before he's even two years old. So, this is not a time to tip toe around the other moms and make sure I observe all the social niceties. Maybe they let this kid shove theirs around all the time. I don't care. This is a time to stand up for my kid in a clear, unambiguous way.

I see my kid get shoved again, and I go up to the other little boy and tell him, down in his face, "No. Play nice."

He gives me this look like, "Oh. You mean it." And I stand there between them and make sure he does play nice. And you know what? They do. (And his mom didn't even notice.)

I. Have. The Power.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Question for Writers: Lost Chameleon or Master Spy?

Imagine a character who is a social chameleon. They're one of those people that everyone likes, when they want to be liked. They pick up easily on accents, lingo, mannerisms, and all that good stuff. Not only that, but they appreciate the value of their talents and use it to get ahead in life. Perhaps they pull scams, or perhaps they work for the CIA.

If this were your character, would they have a stable central personality, or serious identity issues? A character with a stable personality might have more to lose, like a significant other, while the lost chameleon might have more trouble choosing between two dates. Both can easily get tangled in their own web of lies. Which would you write?

Feel free to answer/ramble in the comments. If the question inspires a Flash Friday or something similar, feel free to link to your story in the comments and please link back to here on the applicable webpage.

Ready. Set. GO.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flash Friday #4: Fairy Garden

Sharon wasn't clear on all the rules of her new body so she chose a job that sounded safe. Watering flowers sounded safe. Physically, it was simple. Get water from a cloud and pour it unto the roots. Mentally, it was not so simple. She had to test the soil for dryness. She had to remember the best time of day to water them, and how much each needed. Worst of all, she had to understand and predict weather.

Stupid blessed garden. Mages never thought about the work it took to keep up their spells. Sharon certainly never had.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TNG Ep 6: Where No One Has Gone Before

The Enterprise is ordered to undergo a series of tests and fine tuning designed to increase the efficiency and speed of their warp engines, but Riker and the chief engineer have serious misgivings. It turns out that the equations really are bogus, and that it's Kosinksi's assistant, "The Traveler" who is really tweaking the engines using undisclosed methods. Something goes wrong when the assistant lets Wesley touch the axillary controls and the Enterprise is flung first far away, and then into another dimension altogether. The adults finally figure out that the assistant is behind it all, as Wesley tried to tell them, and The Traveler sacrifices himself to get them back home.

Wesleeeeeey! This episode is all about him, and I have a soft spot for coming of age genius characters. This episode certainly hits on that feeling that all teenagers have, that adults never listen to them no matter how important it is. "Not right now, Wesley," Riker tells him when he tries to draw their attention to the real architect of their adventure, the assistant - who, by the way, sounds like John Malchovich even though it's Eric Menyuk. And Kosinski? Totally Dr. Kroger from Monk (Stanley Kamel).

While we're talking about famous actors, omg Wil Wheaton! He's so young!

Ahem. So, the episode. The Traveler tells Picard that Wesley is a genius and should be encouraged, and all the adults are sorry for treating Wesley like a stupid kid. He's even made an ensign and allowed on the bridge again! But, have the adults really learned their lesson? Guess we'll find out in upcoming episodes.