Thursday, June 29, 2006

Now Playing = "Arch's Nutty Variation" from Endangered Species - David Schumacher (XM)


Every now and then I'll find out about a contest that I should by all rational thought processes not enter. But I usually do anyway. Here's one I saw about a week ago: ChiZine is holding a contest for a publication called ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words. Man, just look at the panel of judges: Ellen Datlow, Neil Gaiman, Jay Lake, Brian Hodge and more. I must be crazy for entering this contest...


Rejection today from Talebones for "Results May Vary." Sometimes once a story has been bounced around a few times, it's time to let it breathe its last. But I still believe in this one. On to the next place.


Found this bit of writing advice from Mary Doria Russell on Marjorie M. Liu's blog.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Episode 44 - Modern Times

I heard this on XM Radio the other day and am just now seeing the story from The Washington Post. Dylan's new album, Modern Times, will be released August 29.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Now Playing = "Velvet Handcuffs" from Sonic Trance by Nicholas Payton (XM)
Over the weekend, I read a story by Steve Rasnic Tem called "The Company You Keep" from last year's anthology Outsiders. It's the only one of Tem's stories I've read, but I won't be able to say that for much longer. The writing is very clear, very restrained, yet full of stunning images that match perfectly the story's ponderings on alienation and culture. Great story, great writing. If this is representative of all of Tem's work, why isn't he talked about more?


Sometimes writing a new story is like driving a car on an abandoned highway. (Certainly a dream around the Baltimore/DC area.) You want to go faster and faster and think about putting on the brakes at some point, but you really shouldn't. This story is taking me to places I'm not comfortable being, but I can't put on the brakes - I've got to go there for the truth of the story to come out. I think my best stories have come from facing the darkness (or danger or whatever) head-on. Who knows what I'll find?

Now Reading = A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehane
Listening to in the Car = Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
In the DVD Player = Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Are you ready?

Six Incredible Weeks

Just a quick shout of encouragement to everyone who will be attending Clarion East (or West) this summer. Most people will probably arrive in East Lansing today. Ah, that first critique session is just hours away.... Best of luck to all. Savor the experience - it'll be over before you know it, but the friendships will go on. Enjoy.



Saturday, June 24, 2006

Run to those Dylan tunes!

Now enjoying

Today's Events

I'm extremely proud of my wife Cindy for running in the Odenton Kiwanis MARC Train 5-Miler today. Six years ago when she started getting ready for Navy boot camp, she couldn't run very far. "I hate this! Hate it!" she'd say. Now she's finished a 5-miler. Again, I'm very proud of her. (Plus her birthday is tomorrow.)


One of my Clarion stories "Uncle Snuffy on Doomsday" got a close call from a market today, but ended up in the rejection pile. This particular editor said the story "was a lot of fun" and "I love the concept and the characters," but apparently it wasn't enough. Onward -


Wow, if you love great speculative book and magazine covers, you simply must check out Cover Story : The Art of John Picacio. What a gorgeous book. Picacio is simply one of the most stunning illustrators working today. Plus he's a super nice guy. This is a must-have.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Now Playing

Progress Report

My short story "The Black" returned yesterday from its first stop on the Tour of Markets, getting rejected by F&SF. So, I'll ship him off somewhere else this afternoon.

Revisions continue on my YA novel currently titled Fortress. (You'd think a better title would come to mind, but so far that's it.) In the meantime, I finished the first draft of a new story early this morning. I have the terrible, awful, gut-wrenching fear that it also wants to become a novel. (Man, I hate it when that happens.) The story is 6500 words long (which is a pretty good chunk for me) and it feels like I have much more to tell in it. Man...

Today's Short Story = "The Owl" - Conrad Williams from TYBF&H 18
Now Reading = Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews, Jonathan Cott, ed. about six other books...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Now Playing = "City of Brass" - Chick Corea (XM)
A fairly uneventful weekend, which is just fine with me. Started a new story tonight and am about to continue revising my YA novel. It's going to be a long process, but so far, so good.


Cindy and I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night, which was not very good. Visually it wasn't bad, but the storytelling was lousy. Not recommended.


I've known about it for awhile, but I just started cataloging a few books on LibraryThing, stuff I've read lately or am currently reading. Cindy took one look at my catalog and gave me her best "You've GOT to be kidding" look. She thinks I'm the biggest geek on the planet. She might have something there...

Today's Short Story = "Tales from the City of Seams" - Greg van Eekhout from TYBFAH 18

Friday, June 16, 2006

Help Me Rhonda

How Much Should We Pay? or Ratio of Cost to Time

I was in the Annapolis Record & Tape Traders store yesterday, one of my favorite stores. I had a bunch of CDs and DVDs (several from garage sales) that I wanted to trade for credit. R&T is great - they rarely refuse anything I bring in and they always have great stuff (new and used) to choose from. Yesterday was no exception.

One of the CDs I picked up was the new Rhonda Vincent disc All American Bluegrass Girl, which, despite what you might think of the cover, is a disc of mostly traditional bluegrass tunes. I've only listened to it once so far, but it's pretty good. The biggest disappointment is the playing time = 39:45.

I'm sorry, in this day and time, nobody should release a disc that's less than 45 minutes long. With few exceptions, I'd rather see an artist release discs less frequently with more time on them. At least you'd feel like you're getting your money's worth. (But I can't really complain, since this one didn't really cost me anything.)

I've always wished the price of the disc reflected the playing time of the disc. A CD with 78 minutes of music shouldn't cost the same as one with 30 minutes. I remember when the Stand By Me soundtrack came out. A friend of mine bought it and was enraged that it was less than 25 minutes long. And he probably paid $15.95 for it. (It's still under 25 minutes long. Amazon sells it new for $10.98.)

Changing the subject slightly, if you haven't heard, the music industry (as far as CD sales go) is in big trouble. People are downloading and burning discs from their friends like crazy and disc sales are tanking. If you haven't already, you'll start seeing discounts all over the place, especially at Amazon. But most of those are the mass-produced older releases by big name acts. If it's a popular artist you're really into, you're probably going to be in luck. But if you're looking for an indie or something really out there, it's unlikely you'll see any discounts.

But the music industry (like the movie industry...another topic for another time) still doesn't get it. Prices are still too high. Had I not traded for the Rhonda Vincent disc, I would have paid $13.99. That's $1.16 per song. I could go to iTunes and get each song for 99 cents (which isn't much better) or download the whole album for $9.99. A few weeks ago Cindy was looking for a certain classical CD. Amazon had it for $17.95, but she got it from iTunes for $9.99.

I don't know if it's just a matter of time before CDs become obsolete, but the record companies don't seem to be doing much to slow down the inevitable.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Story/The 70's Reconsidered

Finished writing the first draft of "The Black," which is now in the hands of my first reader (Cindy). I also started revisions of the YA novel I finished a few months back. Lots to do.


XM Radio sure is great, but I'm encountering some painful reminders that maybe all the music from the 70's wasn't so great. In the span of just an hour or two, I encountered England Dan & John Ford Coley, Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods and the dreaded "Convoy" by C.W. McCall. I wonder if we have any Pepto in the house...

Now Playing = "Kodachrome" - Paul Simon

Monday, June 12, 2006

I've been really frustrated with my writing the past few days, but reading Glen Hirshberg's blog this weekend really brought the problem into focus. It's about the work, nothing else and I hadn't been focusing on that. I did this weekend and it's really made a difference. Thanks, Glen, for sharing your insights and giving me a gentle kick in the pants.

Having said that, the story I've been working on called "The Black" is really starting to come into focus. It's really hard to compare every aspect of writing to my former life of teaching music, but sometimes the similarities are unavoidable. Some of the best times I had as a teacher occurred when the kids in the band grabbed onto what I was saying and immediately understood that "Hey, I actually understand how to listen/balance/tune (or whatever) across the band. Now I understand what to do." Sometimes, in spite of myself, it happens to me too.

Now Playing = "Tomorrow Night" – Carl Smith – XM Radio – Traditional Country
Listening to in the Car – Cold Hit – Stephen J. Cannell
Today's Short Story = Clownette – Terry Dowling from The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 18
Reading = His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Theme Time Radio Hour Posted by Picasa

A Review of The Theme Time Radio Hour, hosted by Bob Dylan

The Theme Time Radio Hour, hosted by Bob Dylan

Broadcast 6/7/06 – This Week's Theme: Jail

Anyone who's read his interviews (or his autobiography Chronicles, Vol. 1) knows that radio was a huge influence on Dylan as a youngster, so it's really not too surprising that Bob would end up hosting a weekly radio show for XM Radio. And like Chronicles, the show is surprisingly good.

You could call them introductions, you could call them mini-commentaries, but Dylan has something of interest to say about each song. With more familiar songs, such as Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," he might relate a bit of trivia. (Merle Haggard was an inmate in the audience during the live recording of the song.) To introduce a more obscure tune, he might tell you a bit about the artist, like Warren Storm – the Godfather of Swamp-Pop Music. (I kid you not.)

The credits at the end of the show name researchers, but having read Chronicles and the liner notes to the Dylan album World Gone Wrong, I wonder how much of the info Dylan relates comes straight from his own knowledge. My guess is quite a bit.

The delivery is often whimsical, playful, tongue-in-cheek; you can tell Dylan is having a great time. And you can't help but grin at his corny jokes ("Life in prison: here tomorrow.") and goofy rhymes. Even in the XM ads that run throughout the week, Dylan ends his spiel with "The Theme Time Radio Hour, the best hour in American broadcasting." You can almost feel your pants leg being pulled.

All of Dylan's antics are great fun, but the highlight is the music itself. Sure, some of the tunes you've heard millions of times before ("Back On the Chain Gang," "Folsom Prison Blues"), but where else are you going to hear Bessie Smith's stunning "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair" or "Prison Wall Blues" by Cannon's Jug Stompers? Some of the songs are no doubt meant to be funny, but even Andre Williams' "Jail Bait" throws a bit of merciless truth in your face. More importantly, Dylan introduces his audience to singers and bands that many listeners have probably never heard of, possibly bringing new fans to acts that have been gone for generations.

So there's Dylan, spinning tunes, spinning tales and having a great time...and maybe showing us a little bit of himself. What could be better than that?

Set List

Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
21 Days in Jail – Magic Sam
Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair – Bessie Smith
Prisoner's Song – Warren Storm
Back on the Chain Gang – Pretenders
Jail Bait – Andre Williams
Prison Wall Blues – Cannon's Jug Stompers
Columbus Stockade Blues – Kenny Layne and His Bull Dogs
Nine Pound Steel – Joe Simon
Okie's in the Pokie – Jimmy Patton
Christmas in Prison – John Prine
In the Jailhouse Now – Sir Douglas Quintet
Jail Bird Love Song – Mississippi Sheiks
Riot in Cell Block #9 – Wanda Jackson
Sing Me Back Home – Merle Haggard
The Last Meal – Hurricane Harry

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Now Reading Posted by Picasa

All Kinds of Fun Stuff

I'm really enjoying my new XM Radio - a great gift from the family. Thanks! I'm eagerly awaiting Bob Dylan's radio show, which will be on in about an hour. This week's topic: songs about jail.


You can find some great stuff on the web by Clarion buddies Nicole Kimberling, Tenea Johnson and John Schoffstall.


Just started reading Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon, which so far is delightful.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A new collection from Glen Hirshberg coming soon. Posted by Picasa

Reasons to Celebrate

I just read the news on Jeff Ford's blog that Glen Hirshberg's new collection American Morons will be coming out later this year. (Amazon has the date as October 1.)

In the meantime, if you haven't read Hirshberg's first collection, The Two Sams, I highly recommend it.


I walked into Gold's Gym last night and saw a notice that the contest winners could now pick up their prize money. Whoooot! I didn't get my hopes up that the check would even cover a dinner at Popeye's, so I wasn't too disappointed to find that each winner (There were 66 of us.) received $38.63. So subtracting the entry fee, I earned $13.63 - the hardest $13.63 I ever earned. But it was fun and I'm 12 pounds lighter and feel great.

Today's Short Story = "Hunting Meth Zombies in the Great Nebraskan Wasteland" - John Farris from The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 18.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I went to a moving sale yesterday and found a kindred spirit. Sort of.

These two women were selling an entire household of stuff (including the house) that belonged to their mother, who is now in a nursing home. The ladies had placed an ad in the paper, part of which read "hundreds of books," so of course, I was there.

The ad was wrong. There were thousands.

I got there early as the ladies were setting up some things outside. I mentioned that I was interested in the books, and as soon as the B-word came out of my mouth, they each grabbed an arm and led me inside.

"What category would you like?" they said, their eyes lit up.

"Science fiction, fantasy, horror...but I'll look at anything."

They led me to a room, three sides of which were filled from floor to ceiling with books, at least half of them sf/f/h. As you might imagine, it was all older stuff, several book club editions, but still some good stuff. I didn't really find much collectible stuff (other than a first edition of Watership Down), but still some nice reading:

Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu
Collected Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions
Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural – Algernon Blackwood
Tales of the Mysterious and Macabre – Algernon Blackwood
Lilith – George MacDonald
Over the Hills and Far Away – Lord Dunsany
Poseidonis – Tales of Lost Atlantis – Clark Ashton Smith
Gather, Darkness! – Fritz Leiber
The Best of Cordwainer Smith
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison

and much more, including some books on sf criticism.

I picked up a few more books, mostly non-fiction. This woman had any category you could name: history, classics, theology, science, anthropology, women's studies, language, reference, costume, theater, music, crafts, just went on and on.

The ladies told me that what I'd seen was about a third of what their mother had. The rest would be appraised and sold at their next sale in six months. I gave them my card and told them to please give me a call and they said they would.

I drove away thinking that this woman, now in a nursing home, must be a pretty amazing person. I instantly regretted not having met her. I'll bet she's got some amazing stories herself.

Now Playing = Beatles 65
Listening to in the Car = The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) – Jonathan Stroud
Today's Short Story = "Speir-Bhan" – Tanith Lee from The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 18

Friday, June 02, 2006


I hate to even contemplate it, but it's getting close to that time again...

My Saturn will turn 10 in about six months, so I really should start looking for something new. It's still hanging in there, but for the past year, I've had several substantial ($500+) repairs that have hammered into the ever-shrinking Wolverton Retirement and Island Cruise Fund. And I think the AC is starting to go. Worse than that, the CD player's on the fritz.

I really hate to think about getting a new car/vehicle/whatever. In nearly 30 years of driving, I've only had four cars:

1977 Mercury Monarch - 8 years
1985 Subaru (Can't remember the model...That tells you something) - 4 years
1988 Toyota Celica - 11 years
1997 Saturn SL-1 - 6 years

When Cindy and I married she had an old, barely running Dodge Colt that broke down just about every week. The car was disaffectionately referred to by me as The Clot. One day while we were driving to Fort Worth, The Clot breathed its last just as we were pulling onto the highway. That was far from the first straw, but it was certainly the last. "I'm getting you a new car tomorrow," I told Cindy and that's just what I did. I think she's been eagerly waiting to return the favor, so I should have something in mind before the Saturn decides to shut down.

I'm not least not too picky. I don't really need an SUV or a truck. I'd like to stick with a four-door, something Bullet can ride in. I need good mileage. (Don't we all?) I've been getting 32 MPG on the highway. I'd love to keep it around there. Just give me a good AC, a CD player, XM Radio, and I'm set. (I know, I don't ask for much.) All recommendations will be considered.


On a sadder note, another used book store is being sold. Deja Vu Books in Bowie, MD, one of my favorite stores, is for sale. Hopefully the new owner will keep it a bookstore - this area has already lost a couple of nice ones lately.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

F&SF June Issue

If you've read the issue, go over to The Slush God's site and vote for your favorite story. Here are the stories ranked according to my level of enjoyment:

1. "Hallucigenia" - Laird Barron
2. "Counterfactual" - Gardner Dozois
3. "The Protectors of Zendor" - John Morressy
4. "Why the Aliens Did What They Did to That Suburb of Madison, Wisconsin" - Tim McDaniel
5. "Terms of Engagement" - C.S. Friedman
6. "Animal Magnetism" - Albert E. Cowdrey

Now Playing = The Sidewinder - Lee Morgan
Just Finished Reading = The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1: The Field Guide - Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
Today's Short Story - "The Protectors of Zendor" - John Morressy