Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo — The New Cover and the Blurb

It’s here!  It’s here! Well, almost…

About a month ago, Grace Bridges at Splashdown Books was here visiting. We worked on the snazzy cover for Mindstorm, made plans for future adventures related to Mindstorm, and took care of a round or so of editing. When she returned to her own home, half a planet away, she set the date for Mindstorm‘s release and set up Amazon for a pre-release purchase.  September 15 crept up in stealth mode.

front sanserif

Pretty amazing what six brilliantly colored water bottles, a black tablecloth, a few boxes, a picture of cracked glass, and overhead lighting can do.  :D

What’s it about?  It’s about 90,000 words. ;) Okay, here’s a better description from the back cover.

Psionic healing. Psionic combat. Inside the mind, there’s a landscape like glass.

Thomas McCrady, a telepathic negotiator from Haidar Station in Earth orbit, is faced with his biggest challenge yet when he is sent to broker peace with only a rookie partner to help him. Worse, she’s the doctor he blames for the death of his last partner.

Calla Geisman’s telepathy is not the same as a standard Haidarian’s. Some people think she’s a waste of space. Some people want her dead. But she’s assigned to go with Thomas to Ologo anyway, and must gain his respect before she can play her part in the war’s end.

Come play with me on Facebook. Tomorrow evening, once I get home from wrangling and mangling glasses, I’m going to post other nifty stuff about Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo like where the story came from and some of the twists and turns it took to get to its current incarnation.

Releasing a book is a scary and exciting time. Scary because I’m releasing to the public something I worked on for years, and I do hope folks find it a fun, worthwhile work. Exciting because It’s Finished!!! It’s really FINISHED!!!!  WHOOOOO!

On Schadenfreude and Compassion

I’ve seen a disturbing trend in things reported through social media and other outlets. More people seem to be amused by the misfortune of others. You might argue that the shenanigans are simply getting more press these days, and maybe that’s true. Bullying and violence against the innocent for “fun” have been around for a long time. These days, though, there’s usually some nut catching it all on camera to make sure it goes viral.

You get kids walking up to complete strangers and smacking the tar out of them “just for fun.” Some people have landed in the hospital or worse as a result. Recently, a group of guys did their own disgusting version of the ice bucket challenge with an autistic fellow as their target. One of my social media friends recently commented that a member of his family makes fun of him for grieving the death of someone special in his life. And politics?  Wow. I see much virtual laughing and finger-pointing when something goes awry.

I’m not talking about rejoicing in justice done. There’s a difference between seeing a criminal brought to justice and finding amusement in his execution.

What became of compassion? Or doing to others as we wish others to do to us?

It still exists. Occasionally, there are reports of situations like Drew Carey offering a reward for the arrest of those responsible for the despicable “ice bucket challenge” prank, or a Texas police officer helping out a homeless man, or Sir Patrick Stewart meeting with a young girl for Make-a-Wish.

The compassion is out there, and maybe that needs to start getting more press than the other.


On Making Recommendations

Since May, I’ve been working as an optician in a large retail store’s vision center. The information overload while in training was huge, and I still have “cranial flatulence” moments, but for the most part, I can do most of the basic job functions except one. Unfortunately, it’s not one I can be trained in because it’s highly opinion-based.

When people come in to try on glasses, they often can’t see themselves, especially if they’re nearsighted. Some people anticipate this problem and bring a friend or relative along. Others turn to the optician for help, and this is where I run into trouble.

You see, unless you have a bifocal prescription, choosing a frame for your glasses is completely subjective. Whether or not I think you’re attractive in those is irrelevant. What do you like? I can’t tell you what you like, and in my way of thinking function is more important than appearance anyway. Do they work? Great!  Do they look good? I’m often at a loss for how to answer the question honestly.

So, I resort to giving objective descriptions. Is it too wide? Too narrow? Very bold? Too big for your face? Too small for your face? Clashes with your hair? All but disappears?

That seems to work out okay.

bedroom eyes flicker creative commons 2009

Photo (c) 2009 “bedroom eyes”/Retrieved from Flickr under Creative Commons

On Internet Connections

There was a time when an Internet connection was pretty much optional. I used it to play games and send email, but really, that was about it. I did my writing on paper with a pen, then typed it up on a word processor, printed it off, and stuffed it in a binder for my future amusement.

Now, I work as an editor at two small presses, have my own work in queues at various publishers, and attend online classes toward a Master’s degree. An Internet connection is no longer optional. Complicating things, I live out in the sticks where connectivity isn’t the greatest.

When I came home from work on Sunday and found my Internet connection toast, I was disappointed but not entirely surprised. I supposed it would be the same thing it was the last couple times and called tech support for the walkthrough on how to fix it… only this time it wasn’t going to fix so quickly. There wasn’t a setting issue caused by the most recent round of storms. There was zero connection between the modem and the carrier. They were going to have to send a tech or two out to check it and fix it.

That complicated things. The two publishers I work for would understand, and so would the ones I’m publishing through, but I had schoolwork that needed doing and the professor had already declared the “late work policy,” which was fair but more stringent than the previous class. Tuesday was the earliest a tech could get here when I wasn’t going to be working, and yes, I had to be here. First paper is due… Wednesday. Some things I could do from my iPad’s cellular link, but post a paper?  In proper formatting?  Pffff…. not going to happen.

So, today the techs, all 3 of them, made it out to the house, and within 10 minutes, they diagnosed the problem. Somehow, when installing a setup for another house — probably my newly arrived neighbors — the previous knucklehead a very confused technician disconnected my parents’ house. *facepalm*

They were able to get it up and running (Yay, guys! *rawkfist*), and all is well with the world again … until the next time it goes haywire.

On Injuries

Injuries are no fun. They hurt. They limit our effectiveness in some areas. Many times, they take a good long while to heal. Injuries can, however, help us discover interesting things.

Recently, like within the last week, I did something that pulled a muscle in my left side under my upper arm. What did I do? I have no idea. I woke up one morning with a serious case of “Ow! That hurts!” It’s just now starting to fade away… slowly… like, you’ve seen faster glaciers, I’m sure.

This past week, I’ve discovered just how involved that muscle is in my daily life. Some things I expected. Like stretching upward with my left hand?  *wince* You would think, then, that keeping my left arm tucked down by my side or across my abdomen would hurt less? No, still ow.

Picking up heavy stuff? Yep, ow.  Expected that.  Pushing or pulling something left-handed. Yikes! Don’t do it that way, either. Knew that was coming. Doing the same thing right-handed should be safe, right? Only for very light work. Otherwise …

Roll my shoulders back, ow. Roll them forward, still not a good idea.

Walking, especially at a good clip, even if I don’t swing my left arm … not advisable. Especially if I step upward, downward, or particularly hard with my right foot. That sounds weird, but I’m not totally surprised. After all, for most people, the left arm and right leg move together when we walk.

Why so many odd results? Well, just like the arm bone is connected to the hip bone eventually, so is the pectoral muscle is connected to the quadriceps, the long way around. Our bodies function as a detailed system with feedback loops over various sorts. Tension in one place is answered somewhere else.

So, injuries can lead to many paths of discovery, but I don’t have any plans to seek out more of those kinds of “learning experiences” any time soon.

On Tires

With my last three cars, all the tires wore out at about the same time, and I had to buy 4 new ones. This new car is … odd.

Every now and then I wear out the front tires on my car and they need to be replaced. Just the front ones, mind you. The back ones apparently last forever, but there’s a reason for that. See, when I go to get new tires for the front, the nice guys at the tire shop put the new ones on the back and move the back ones to the front.  They tell me it’s for safety.

The first time that happened, I thought the guy was one electron short of a hydrogen atom. I’d come in to get the front tires replaced, not the back ones, and why would I want the less good tires on the front of the front-drive car?

It has to do with traction in a skid, or so I’m told. I can steer the front to compensate for poor traction in the front wheels, but if the back wheels lose it … not so much to be done there. Hence, good tires on the back for traction.

In the 25 years I’ve been driving, I’ve only lost traction a few times: twice on ice (pulled an unintentional 540 one time and landed in a median) and twice in rain.  No wrecks as a result, but that was enough for me.  If putting good tires in the back and not so good tires in the front means I don’t get to spin out again, I’m okay with that.

Mikl Roventine feb 8 09 retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons 08 23 14

Copyright 2009 Mikl Roventine

Retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons on this date and used unchanged under CC License

PS: When I went to go look for the above picture, I entered “tires” in the search window … and about half the pictures came up critters and people yawning and napping.  Close but … not quite, eh?

On Success

Most folks want to be successful at something in their personal or professional lives, but what is success? Is it simply completing a task correctly?

I’m working on a Master’s degree in Adult Education, and the current class is on the value of collaborative learning. One of the things I like about this program is that it tends to practice what it preaches more often than my previous teacher prep degree. (Unfortunately, the perspective is a little biased in one direction, but I’m learning the skills to go do my own research on the parts I feel are lacking).

This time, the instructor divided us into groups to complete a template detailing a new course involving the concepts and techniques described in our textbooks. This group project is now over and the class is reflecting on the experience in a forum.

Based on the instructor’s feedback on individual pieces of the assignment, my group will score quite well. She had no corrective feedback for us on any of the segments.  All four people in my group were very meticulous. We’ll get the final score this weekend or next week, but I anticipate a good result.

Does that mean we succeeded? Everyone who has posted their reflection to the forum seems to think so. They describe how their teams worked together to complete the project and turn in a (hopefully) high-scoring effort. The goals for this course seem to point toward equating success and completing the project with high marks. It’d be a poorly designed class otherwise.

The two teammates who have posted their reflections thought we did a fabulous job and should be proud of our efforts. So, why don’t I feel like I’ve succeeded? 

I’ll have to give it some more thinking, perhaps.  In the meantime, what do you think characterizes “success?”