Parenting and Pitching

February 29, 2012

Getting this in before the storms arrive and knock out my internet for the evening….

I’m thinking about parenting today, about the different things it throws at us from day to day.  And that’s the right analogy for this time of year, when baseball training camps are opening in Florida and Arizona:

Parenting is one kick-ass pitcher.  It throws blazing fastballs, confounding curveballs, and unhittable sliders.  It lulls us into comfortable oblivion and then rocks us back on our heels with high heat.  And just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, it shows us something new, a pitch we never even imagined it could throw.  Every now and then, we get it right — a solid single to left, a double up the gap.  On really special days we manage to hit one out of the park.  But mistakes come more frequently than successes, and once in a while we get drilled right in the ribs.

My kids are doing fine right now.  Really.  I don’t think I’m behind in the count, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m ahead, either.  And the thing about this pitcher is that he never lets you get comfortable.  He always finds a way to keep you just a bit off balance, as any formidable pitcher will.

The truth is, I love being a parent.  Totally, without qualification.  But it is hard.  I often talk about how hard it is to write, but writing is easy next to parenting.  And every day Nancy and I face issues we hadn’t anticipated.  That’s okay, though.  It’s part of the game.

I step in again, set my feet, pinwheel the bat, my grip relaxed but firm.  I’ve been handcuffed before, but I’ve taken this guy deep, too.  I can do this.  Just wait for the pitch…

Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, C.E. Murphy, and Kalayna Price, among others.  The post is called “On Writing and Publishing:  Refining Your Elevator Pitch,” and it’s about a method I have used to get my book proposal pitch to the right length and tone.  I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve spent the first two months of this year (Really?  Two months already?  Wow.) revising a couple of stories and writing a proposal for a couple of books.  According to my work calendar for the year, next week I begin work on some new short fiction.  And I can’t wait.

When I go for too long without writing something new, I get grumpy, or morose, or both.  I sink into myself in an unhealthy way, and I’m not all that pleasant to be around.  Now, before January, I had gone a long, long time without taking a break from writing, and that can be a bad thing, too.  We writers can be a difficult bunch — things have to be just so.  Write too much without rest and I find myself getting burned out, and by the end of last year I was feeling a bit crispy around the edges.  But if we write too little . . . well, as I said, I’m getting grumpy.

So on Monday I start writing again.  And like bouncing for Tiggers, writing is really what I do best.

Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on speculative fiction that I maintain along with a group of over one hundred published authors of fantasy and science fiction. It is called “E-Publishing and the Short Story Writer,” and it’s about the ways in which new technologies might impact the short fiction market. I hope you enjoy it.

Gimme a “T” for Taxes

February 22, 2012

Did most of the remaining work on my taxes today.  A writer’s taxes can be complicated — home office, self-employment, contract work, no predictable income from year to year.  I actually wrote a bit about it at the D.B Jackson blog a couple of weeks ago.  (Visit the blog here and scroll down if you’re interested.)

But the part I had to fill in today was my pathetic little 1099-div for my pathetic little investments.  These accounts are odd things to deal with at tax time.  On the one hand, I want my investments to do well.  Obviously, right?  But I don’t want them to do so well that they wreak havoc on my tax liability. This, I suppose, is why people like Mitt Romney have tax shelters and Cayman Island accounts and stuff like that.  I can’t afford such things, but I also can’t really afford the taxes I have to pay because I can’t afford them.  If you get my drift . . . .

Anyway, looking forward to filing and being done.

Looking Beneath the Paint

February 20, 2012

We’re having some work done on the house right now, including some interior painting.  Yes, I know, we could do it ourselves, but to be honest, we wouldn’t be very good at it, and we don’t have tons of free time.  Besides, part of the painting work also involves repairing parts of the ceiling and walls where the drywall has cracked or buckled, and I don’t know the first thing about repairing that.  The guys we’ve hired are terrific.  And it’s a good thing.

We assumed that the cracks and buckling were due to the house settling or something of the sort.  Turns out, not so much.  The crack in the ceiling — a major crack running from one side of the living room to the other — was caused by the simple fact that when we built the house 14 years ago, the original drywallers didn’t attach the wall boards to planks with the screws.  They didn’t attach the wall boards to anything.  The missed the joists and didn’t bother to correct the mistake.  We were lucky the drywall only cracked.  It could have collapsed entirely.  And the buckling?  The metal beading on the corners wasn’t screwed in either.  Those original drywallers just stuck the beading on the wet mud (ie, spackle) and hoped it would stick when the mud dried.

I know this was 14 years ago — water under the bridge, as they say.  It’s costing us a bit to repair this stuff, but not so much that it’s really a hardship.  But still, I can’t help but be ticked off.  There’s no excuse for shoddy work, and these guys did some seriously shoddy work.  The folks working for us now are blown away by how bad the old work was.  As I say, it happened a long time ago; I shouldn’t let it bother me.

But if you’re having work done on your house, or your building a new place, keep an eye on what’s happening.  Just sayin’….

A Lame Post

February 18, 2012

All right, I feel a little guilty about this one.  But between this blog and the D.B. Jackson blog ( I have managed to post every day so far this year.  And I don’t want to blow that today.  Thing is, it’s late and I’ve been running non-stop since early this morning.  It’s time I got to sleep.  So this is a pretty lame excuse for a blog post, but hey, at least I got something up, right?  ‘Night all.

Titles, Titles, Titles

February 17, 2012

Titles.  I hate ’em.  Really.  I mean, yeah, finding a great title for a book — THE perfect title — that’s really fun.  A great feeling.  But other than that coming up with titles just sucks.  And that’s part of what I’m doing today.  I’m sitting in front of my computer working on a proposal for my next two novels.  I know what they’re about, mostly.  But I have no idea what to call them.  And so I go to Amazon, and as ideas occur to me, I search their books section to see if anyone has used the title before.  Not that this would absolutely rule out any given option.  No one can copyright a title, which is why you sometimes see two or three or five books with the same title.  But all things being equal, I would rather come up with something original.  I have a title for one of the two books.  At least it’s a working title.  I know that I’m not ready to commit to using it by the fact that I’m not willing to say what it is.  Not yet.  I don’t like it enough.  Maybe it’ll grow on me.  Maybe not.  But it’s good enough for now, and I still have another book to name.  –Sigh–  I wonder if a beer would help….

Hope you all have a good weekend.

New Interview Is Up

February 15, 2012

I’ve just been interviewed on the Michigan Speculative Fiction — MiFi Writers website.  The interview was conducted by my friend, Tim Rohr and it covers a broad range of topics related to writing, publishing, and my own career, including my work in historical fantasy under the name D.B. Jackson.  I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s post can be found at, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, C.E. Murphy, and Kalayna Price, among others. The post is called “On Writing: Transitions and Chapter Breaks,” and it’s about using breaks in the narrative of our books to increase narrative tension and improve narrative flow. I hope you enjoy it.