WIP Progress Report

September 17, 2008

Update on Blood of the Southlands, Book 3:  Twelve pages today; nearly 3,000 words.  The major action chapters are finished, though there remains one piece of unfinished business to attend to.  Bwahahahaha!   [Rubs hands together in manner of evil super-genius.]  I like the way this thing is wrapping up.  And I’m pretty confident that I can finish it by the end of next week.  Yay!!


A Post About Narrative Arc

September 16, 2008

Today’s post, “Narrative Arc and the Multi-Book Fantasy Series,” can be found at the blogsite of my wonderful agent, Lucienne Diver (http://varkat.livejournal.com).  Lucienne is hosting a “Fantasy Week” at her blogsite all week long and into next week, and I encourage all of you to check out not only my post, but other posts by Carol Berg, Lynn Flewelling, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Sarah Hoyt, and Michelle Lang.

Today’s post, “An Ending Both Happy and Sad,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  Please visit the site and check it out.  And, as always, enjoy!


September 14, 2008

You know you’ve crossed the line in terms of campaign sleaziness when Karl Rove says you’ve gone too far.


BOW Award Time

September 13, 2008

About midway through this week I received a nomination for this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award from a friend of mine.  The nomination was for Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden, who was at a rally (I’m not sure where) and he introduced a state senator by the name of Chuck Grahm and told the guy to stand up so that he could be acknowledged by the crowd.  Problem was, Chuck Grahm is in a wheelchair.  Clearly Biden didn’t know this and when he realized it he was suitably embarrassed (Google Joe Biden and Chuck Grahm and you can see video of the whole thing, and also read a bunch of comments from wingnutters calling Biden awful things).  Clearly Biden’s advance staff screwed up, and clearly Biden should have done his homework on the guy.  but he recovers well in the video and pokes fun at himself.  Yes it was stupid, which is why it’s a nominee.  But it doesn’t come close to winning.  Why?  Because as this week’s BOW Award will show, it’s more than just stupidity that I’m trying to get at with these awards.  It’s stupidity combined with malice or prejudice.  It’s out-and-out lies.  It’s all the stuff that makes politics in America these days so infuriating.  Maybe buffoon isn’t quite the right word.  Yeah, Biden’s a bit of a buffoon in this instance.  Maybe the right word is shithead.  But this is a family blog, and I really don’t want to be giving away SOW Awards every week….

So this week I’m giving the BOW Award to John McCain and Sarah Palin.  Yep.  Just gave away the punch line didn’t I?  Well, not entirely.  Because I really don’t know what to give it to them for.  They did so much this week that was worthy of the award.  It seemed like everything they did and said was so egregious, I just don’t know which act of buffoonery to recognize.

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Polls and Bounces

September 12, 2008

Prompted by a doomsday scenario post by a good friend of mine, I’d like to offer a brief word about the dangers of panic.  I’ve noticed a lot of my Democratic friends falling into despair the past couple of weeks since Palin-Mania has swept the country. (Remember when the McCain Campaign made fun of Obama for being a “celebrity”?  Next thing you know they’ll be claiming that McCain is the candidate of change….  Oh, wait.  They’re already doing that….)  The new polls that have come out this week have been a bit scary for us on the Blue Team.  Obama’s lead is gone.  McCain is up by a point or two in several national polls (that Gallup poll showing him up 10 among “likely voters” is clearly an outlier and not worth worrying about) and has tipped the electoral map in his favor by 10 or 15 electoral votes.  Yes, things do indeed look bleak.

Except for a few salient points:  First, every poll we’re seeing right now reflects McCain’s post-convention, post-Palin bounce.  Obama’s bounce was fleeting because it was followed so quickly by the announcement of Palin as McCain’s VP and then the Republican National Convention.  The McCain campaign deserves praise for their strategic planning.  They minimized the length of Obama’s bounce and maximized their own.  Well done.  But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still in bounce mode.  There was a new poll in my paper this morning that showed McCain up one point nationally.  Here we are a full week after the RNC ended.  Shouldn’t the bounce be over by now?  Maybe.  But the poll was conducted Sept. 5-9:  RIGHT after the RNC ended.  It just took them a few days to compile the results and release, making it seem that McCain’s bounce is lasting longer than it actually is.  Remember:  none of the polls we’re seeing now tell us anything about the effect of the new Troopergate stories still coming out of Alaska.  None of them reflect the fact that Palin’s lies about the Bridge to Nowhere funding were beginning to wear thin during this week’s rallies.  None of them tell us anything about the effect of the Palin per diem story reported in the Washington Post and reprinted in many local papers.  None of them take into account her shaky performance last night with Charlie Gibson (Come on, Governor!  Even I know what the Bush Doctrine is!).
Second, McCain’s bounce has brought him to a virtual tie with Obama.  Maybe he’s up slightly.  Obama’s bounce, though it lasted only a few days, put him up by six to eight points in most polls and gave him a HUGE electoral advantage.  I used to work for a political consulting firm way back when (mid 1980s) and part of what I did was polling analysis.  Consultants often speak to their clients of polling ceilings and floors — levels that they’re not going to exceed and levels below which they probably won’t fall.  I believe that Barack Obama’s polling ceiling was revealed in those days after the DNC, when he was reaching 51% and 340 electoral votes.  I believe John McCain’s polling ceiling is right now, and it’s about 48% and 280 electoral votes.  That’s enough for him to win, particularly with Bob Barr and Ralph Nader appearing on most state ballots, but it gives him precious little margin to work with.  All things considered, I’d still rather be in Obama’s position than McCain’s.  The polls will balance out.

Third, polls do not take into account new voter registration, which has been favoring Democrats overwhelmingly, or the effect of the Obama ground organization, which could produce one of the great Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns in our nation’s history, or the fact that most young voters, who favor Obama by huge numbers, tend to have cell phones but no land lines.

Fourth, another truism from my consulting days:  In elections, a week is a long time, two weeks is a lifetime, three weeks is an eternity.  We’re still 7+ weeks out.  The dynamics of this race can and will change many times between now and November 4.  We are nowhere near the endgame.

Finally, no one ever said this was going to be easy.  We’re trying to elect an African-American man with a strange name President of the United States.  A lot of Americans simply aren’t ready for that.  This doesn’t mean we can’t win; it just means we’re going to have to work extra hard TO win.  The Rovian attack machine is in full battle mode already, spreading disgusting lies and innuendo, playing on racial and religious prejudices that many people don’t even know they harbor. 

So no, I don’t think we ought to be panicking.  But anyone who thought this was going to be a cakewalk was pretty much deluding him- or herself.

Well, I’m moving along on the current work in progress (Book 3 of Blood of the Southlands) and have little else to post about today, so I thought I’d throw a new progress bar at you. It’s been a while and I’m far beyond where I was the last time I posted one.

Not bad at all. I’m looking at a November 1 deadline, but I’m hoping to finish the book by the end of this month and let it sit for a couple of weeks before submitting it at the end of October.

Anyway, that’s where I am. And I just love playing with that technology. It may not look like much to you, but that’s about as bells-and-whistle-y as I get….

By the way, I still haven’t come up with a title for this book, but I have a contest up on my website in which you can help me choose from among some options (or suggest a title of your own).  Check it out!

Today’s post, “About My Editor,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  Please visit the site and, as always, enjoy!

A Very Long BOW Award Post

September 6, 2008

What a week!  In all the time I’ve been giving away the BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award, I don’t think I’ve ever had more deserving nominees.  Idiocy, it seems, was in the air, helped no doubt by the fact that the Republican Party was holding it’s quadrennial hate-fest (also known as the Republican National Convention) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  So, without further ado….

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Sarah Palin Revisited

September 3, 2008

It’s been five days or so, which in the world of 24 hour news and instant information is a lifetime.  So I thought I’d revisit the Sarah Palin nomination.  It’s been quite a week for the McCain Campaign, for the governor, and for her family.  Some of it has been downright ugly, and much of it has been entirely deserved.

Last week, just hours after watching John McCain introduce her as his running mate, I commented that his selection had pretty much taken the experience issue off the table for the Republicans.  It seems I was wrong about that.  Republicans have been making the case that her term as mayor of Wasilla and her 20 months as Alaska’s governor give her more experience than Barack Obama.  I believe this is nonsense, and I’m especially struck by the fact that they claim her time as mayor and on the city council of this tiny little town is relevant experience.  At the same time, they refuse to acknowledge that the years Barack Obama spent as a community organizer counts for anything.  They also fail to grasp that right now Barack Obama and John McCain are exercising more executive leadership than either of them has ever before:  as leaders of their own campaigns.  Obama’s campaign is one of the most disciplined, finely-tuned campaigns Americans have ever seen.  His grassroots level organization is particularly formidable and may well be the deciding factor in this election. And in his most important campaign decision to date, Obama chose Joe Biden as his running mate.  McCain’s campaign has been in turmoil again and again, it has almost no grassroots organization at all, and his most important decision to date was choosing Palin.  Clearly Obama has the edge here.

I also said last week that I thought McCain was crazy if he thought that nominating Palin would bring Hillary Clinton’s supporters to his campaign.  This has been borne out by more recent events.  The fact is that McCain has lost traction with women since the announcement.  This is because, in part, as more and more information about Palin has emerged, it’s become clear that she is at the very fringe of right-wing extremism on a host of social issues.  She is so doctrinaire on abortion that she would make it illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies where the life of the mother is endangered.  She is in favor of teaching creationism in schools.  She is in favor of abstinence-only sex education in schools.  This, of course, has become a prominent issue since the announcement on Monday that her 17 year-old daughter is pregnant.  I’m not going to comment on the pregnancy (this is where much of the ugliness has been, and I think that Barack Obama’s insistence that the media and his supporters leave the Palin family alone is commendable), except to say that it does bring into stark relief the ridiculousness and ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs like those Palin advocates.

And then there are the issues that hadn’t come out yet on Friday when I first wrote about McCain’s selection of Palin.  For instance, the fact that she lied in her very first speech before a national audience.  She painted herself as a reformer and claimed that she had refused funds for the great Alaskan boondoggle known as the Bridge To Nowhere.  Turns out she was in favor of funding the bridge before she was against it.  She campaigned for governor on the promise of lobbying for those funds and completing the bridge.  Only when it became politically expedient to do so did she turn against it.  It’s been claimed by many that she and indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens are mortal political enemies.  Turns out she appeared with him at a campaign stop in July and spoke very highly of him.  She has claimed that the Troopergate scandal in Alaska (she fired a public safety official because he failed to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, who is locked in a fierce custody battle with Palin’s sister) was nothing but a political circus.  She has now hired a lawyer for the case and the McCain Campaign has been pressuring the special investigator assigned to look into the scandal to hold off on releasing any information until after the election.  The McCain Campaign claims that they vetted Palin thoroughly for the position, but it turns out that McCain met with her once prior to asking her to be on the ticket, and that her vetting was done on the fly last week.  Either McCain was willing to put politics above country and nominate someone who may well be unqualified, or his vetters don’t really understand what the word “vetting” means.

Republicans are screaming now that Palin is the victim of “sexism” and that the media have some sort of vendetta against McCain and his VP choice.  Bull.  They didn’t mind when the press was looking into Barack Obama’s past, but now that the press is looking into Palin’s they’re crying foul.  Get over it, folks.  McCain brought this on himself.  It’s not sexism to point out that Palin’s resume is thin and that she is not at all the reformer she’s made herself out to be.  It’s not a vendetta when the press does the vetting work that McCain’s campaign neglected to do.

The bottom line in this matter is that this election will ultimately come down to questions of judgment.  And in this case, John McCain’s judgment was breathtakingly bad.