Tag Archives: politics

Slow Going

I haven’t been able to do much in the last few days. Part of it is because I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. But to be honest, most of it is because I got sucked into another Facebook game, and that is what is taking up most of my time right now.

I glanced over at the side of my Facebook stream the other day and I noticed an ad for Farmville 2. I played Farmville for a while last year, and the year before that, but I stopped because it was interfering with my writing time. I quit playing all the Facebook games so I could make better use of my time. But when I saw the ad for the new version I got curious. I wanted to know what they had changed, so I decided to take a look.

So, of course, now I am spending a lot of my time planting, watering, harvesting, feeding, and crafting. It’s a big time suck, but I promise that I will stop cold turkey on November 1 for NaNoWriMo. Nothing will keep me from attempting to win for my third year in a row!

However, I still need to do a lot of planning for November. I have ideas, and I think they are coming together in my head, but what I really need to do is put them down on paper. Or at least, in my Scrivener file. I’m also using yWriter, because it lets me plan individual scenes.

On a political note, I am going to go to the Obama rally here in Madison on Thursday. This is the most important election of my life so far, and I am really looking forward to seeing the President. I managed to get the day off and I will be leaving the house early to make sure I get a good seat. I’ll try to do some planning while I wait, but I won’t be able to bring my netbook because of security, but I might be able to manage bringing my Kindle Fire instead. I can do some work on that while I wait. The problem is that it may also be raining and umbrellas aren’t allowed, so I’ll have to be careful about that. If it is raining, the pen and paper option wouldn’t be much better. But I’ll give it a shot, and we’ll see what happens.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll be back on Sunday with another post. Hopefully I’ll be able to report that I have figured out how to manage my time so that I can play a little bit and then work on my book. Or maybe what I should do is make a commitment to do my planning before I let myself play. That would probably be a better idea….

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, The Writing Experience

Stealing from the Best

I’m still plugging away at my plan for NaNoWriMo in November. I was playing around with some ideas for the plot this morning and had a bit of an epiphany.

My idea has some small parallels with the original Star Wars trilogy. Maybe I should pattern it after the movies. Then I would have not just one, but three books that I could write.

Now before you get all hot and bothered about stealing ideas from other creators, let me remind you of one thing: THAT’S WHAT WRITERS DO!

Seriously, there are only so many plots available to write. Every author takes one (or more) of them and creates his own story from that basic idea. I’m certainly not going to plagiarise George Lucas. There is no way that I can write about my Valkyries fighting a demon incursion and have to worry about George setting his lawyers after me.

What I mean, is that I can write my story in such a way that my characters will be hooking up with a rebel force and at the end they will take down a major demon stronghold. It won’t be the Death Star, but it will be big, nasty, and destroying it will be a huge setback for the demons. After that I can write a second book in which the demons “strike back”, and lastly one in which the rebels, led by my main characters, take down the evil empire.

Although I won’t be copying the movies, I do want to watch them again before I start writing. I’ve got a whole stack of other dystopian films to go through as well, so I will certainly be busy for the next month.

I may end up changing my mind about this idea, but for now that is what I am going with. Let me know what you think. I could use a second (or third, fourth, ninety-eighth) opinion before I make a big mistake. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out who will be the evil emperor behind all the chaos.

Speaking of evil empires, I learned today that the governor of my state (but definitely not MY governor), the weasel Scott Walker, is going to start a national narc campaign. “If you see something, tell somebody.” This whole idea gets under my skin in so many ways.

First off, remember that this is from a man who has to have a legal defense fund, has had several of his political “achievements” turned over because they are illegal and/or unconstitutional, and who has spent most of his term touring the country because he is afraid to show his face in Wisconsin. If this goes into effect, you would think he would realize how many calls they are going to get about him and his cronies. Not a good idea.

Secondly, if I remember my history correctly, the Nazis had a similar program to flush out Jews. I know Joseph McCarthy did at the height of the Red Scare. This is how it started. A seemingly innocent program that sounds like it is only intended to flush out the criminal element, but it quickly turns neighbors and co-workers against each other.

For the last ten years we have been trying to regain our privacy and freedom from the “Homeland Security Agency”. The paranoid extremists took the opportunity given them by the tragedy of 9/11 to get a toe hold into our democracy, and that crack has only widened over the last decade. I really don’t think this country needs another witch hunt. It will bring nothing but pain and injustice to a country that needs, more than ever, to come together.

Whatever happens in the next couple months, I hope and pray that we as a nation will be able to come to our senses and go back to the good and decent country that I grew up in. Please remember to VOTE in November. Do your part to make my dream come true.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update. Don’t forget to leave a comment for me!

2 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, The Writing Experience

Where to Begin?

I have an idea.

I started working out the details of the setting for my story. It’s important to know something about their world so the characters have a background to work in.

I have identified most of the major characters and given them a place in the world.

Now I need to take all of this and plan it out so that my idea, characters, and setting turn into a solid story. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

The first problem is that the setting for my story is a little overwhelming. My last post gave some of the details of that world, and if you read it all the way through you are probably as depressed as I am about the current political situation in the United States. I’m not sure how I am going to be able to make it through the next six weeks before the election on November 6. The only comfort I have is that, based on the polls, Romney really doesn’t stand a chance of winning. But then, elections have been bought before. Just look at the results of Scott Walker’s recall election for proof of that one. I’m also still convinced that George Bush rigged both of his election victories.

Another problem is that I am using characters from stories I have already written. This story is kind of a new spin on my first NaNoWriMo project, with the addition of the main characters from my two Valkyrie novels. The main character from my first book, however, will be a bit different from the way he was originally portrayed, and the story itself will be a lot different.

Since I am using the main characters of three of my previous novels, I want to give each of them a chance to shine in this one. So I will need to figure out how to switch between character viewpoints as I write. The book I just finished used multiple character viewpoints, but I don’t think I did it very well. I’m hoping that with a little more planning I’ll be able to do a better job of it this time. I’m thinking of switching viewpoints between chapters, and with a little preparation I’ll be able to plan each of my chapters in advance and decide which character will be the focus of each point of the story.

The last problem I have is figuring out how to present my idea as a solid story with a plot that people will be able to follow. Right now my idea is solely a civil war to reclaim the country from the dark forces that have taken over the Republican party and stolen the last election. That’s a pretty vague idea. What I really need to do is figure out how my characters fit into this idea. I need to figure out where they are when the story starts, what pulls them into the rebellion, how they manage to win in the end, and most importantly, what vital parts of their personality are revealed and change over the course of the story.

Because it’s really all about the characters, right?

Seriously, while I honestly think that the Republican party has recently become not just a bad idea, but an active evil that needs to be stopped, I don’t want this story to just be my own little political rant. I’m not here to get up on my soapbox and scream my beliefs to the world. I’m here to tell an entertaining story, and hope that my readers learn a little bit about both themselves and the world they live in by the time they reach the end. And hopefully what they learn will help to make this world a better place for all of us.

I don’t have a lot done yet. I think I may need to re-read my previous stories, if only to get some of the names and character details straight. I’m still mulling over how I’m going to start. I’m watching some dystopian movies for ideas. I just finished watching Soylent Green, which was eye-opening for me. It’s actually a fairly good representation of the world I think we are headed for if the Republicans take control. High unemployment, people living in the streets, crime is rampant even among the police, women are treated as “furniture”, and the big corporations can do anything they want because they are in charge of it all.

As always, I appreciate any comments you might have for me. What is your favorite dystopian movie? Leave a note about it and I’ll see if I can find a copy to add to my viewing list before November 1. And check in again on Wednesday for another update.

1 Comment

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, The Writing Experience

I’m Done. What’s Next?

As you can tell by the title of this post, I finished my story. It came in at just over 61,000 words, so I hit my goal for the story as well as my goal to finish by the end of September. And now it goes into a drawer for a few months or years until I can stand to look at it again enough to edit it.

So my next project is getting ready for NaNoWriMo. As you may recall, it’s going to be about the next civil war in America. I’m bringing back George from my first NaNoWriMo project, Dragons at Dawn, as well as Miranda and Nicole from my Valkyrie series. They will be teaming up to save America from the demonic forces that have taken over.

Part of my process is figuring out how bad things have to get before somebody has to step up and do something about it. So I have been taking a long, hard look at the Republican agenda and have posited some worst-case scenarios for what would happen if they win in November. As you might guess, I am fiercely opposed to practically all of their party platform, and I will proudly vote for Obama (again!) on November 6.

Here’s what I came up with. Forgive the rambling nature. These are just thoughts I jotted down as I perused a list of the goals of the GOP.

The United States is a democracy in name only. The corporations had taken over by buying all elections, and profit rules the country. People are treated like slaves, especially women. There is no longer any social safety net, and most Americans have lost any retirement savings they had. Elderly are either forced to work, or they live on the street. Children are forced to find jobs to help their families survive, and public schools have all been shut down, leaving education solely for the rich elite.

Unemployment is at a record high, leaving at least a third of the country out of work, while millions of American jobs have been outsourced to other countries. Unemployment insurance has been eliminated, leaving people destitute within days if they lose their job. Anyone lucky enough to find employment is desperate to keep it, making themselves virtually slaves to their employers.

Health care is only available to the rich, while the majority of the country is forced to either purchase expensive medication or buy on the black market. People are dying of diseases that were thought to have been wiped out decades ago, and there are rumors of plague.

Taxes on the people who do have jobs take half their income, and most of that money goes to bailouts and handouts to the richest people. The country has a state religion, with mandatory attendance for everyone except the rich, who profess belief but don’t conform to the practice.

Women and homosexuals are targets wherever they are found alone, with beatings and rape common and never investigated. If women are lucky enough to find jobs, they are paid a small fraction of their male counterparts and are often required to perform sexual acts to keep their positions.

Clean energy research is a thing of the past, and companies ravage the countryside with no concern for the environment as they look for more fossil fuels, even though the demand in the United States has dropped drastically, since most people can no longer afford a car. Bicycles and walking is the most common mode of transportation, since even public transportation has gotten to be too expensive for most people to afford.

Guns are common, and most of the wealthy employ private armies labeled as security forces to protect themselves. These forces are staffed mainly by the poor who enlisted in the army in an attempt to better their lives. Once they are discharged the only employment they can find is in these security teams, with the best going to the police. The police forces have been privatized. Their staff has been drastically reduced, and only patrol the wealthiest parts of the country. Everywhere else crime runs rampant. Fire departments have also been privatized, and again, they are only called out to protect business property and wealthy homes, leaving the slums which cover most of the cities to burn if a fire breaks out.

The divorce rate is down since single parenthood is illegal. Many women are forced to marry if they get pregnant, even in the case of rape, since abortion is also illegal. And since contraceptives that used to be provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood are no longer available, and sex education is no longer taught in schools, unwanted pregnancies have increased.

In short, the superpower that used to be the United States of America is now a third world country, despised and ridiculed by most of the world. Canada and Mexico now guard their borders to keep Americans from crossing into their countries illegally, and most people can’t afford the bribes and fees that are charged in order to get a passport.

That’s it. That’s what I think might happen if the Republicans are in power. Pretty scary stuff. Then you throw in some demons and Valkyries and you get a downright horrific mess. Ready for more? Here’s an overview, showcasing some of the different groups involved in the story:

The country is ruled by the richest people, who have all formed an alliance with demonic forces. The demons used their powers to take over the country for the rich, but now they are getting bored and have been going out into the world more and more frequently to wreak havoc.

The rich people are losing control over the demons, and are starting to get worried, but they are trapped in the lives they created for themselves. Some of their children are starting to rebel against their parents and supporting the common people.

The Valkyries and other supernatural enforcers are having trouble keeping the increasing numbers of demons from revealing the magical world. The influx of demonic power has also increased the number of human wizards and priests who are discovering how to use magic on their own.

There are also increasing numbers of people joining gangs, and many gangs are fomenting revolution. They are heavily armed and pissed off, with nothing to lose.

In short, the country is about to break wide open in civil war.

Those are my preliminary ideas. Now I need to start figuring out how to tell this story. I’ll need to decide how each of my characters is involved in this mess and what they are going to do to get us all out of it. I’ll also need to come up with a good antagonist. They will need someone to fight with. Someone who has been behind the scenes, planning this whole thing for his own sadistic pleasure. I can’t use Mitt Romney, because despite how hard he tries, I just don’t think he is evil enough for the part.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Sunday with another update. See you then!

6 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, ROW80, The Writing Experience

Planning for the Future

I am still working on my YA story, and last night I hit 42,000 words. But today I thought I should start getting some thoughts down for my next project, which needs to be ready in time for NaNoWriMo.

In case you missed it, my next story is going to be about a civil war or revolution (what is the difference?) here in America. The things that the Republican Taliban Tea Party have been trying to push through are disgusting and wrong, and have me seriously concerned about the direction my country is headed. So, like any author worth his salt, I decided I need to write a story about it.

Of course, the story is going to be anything but normal. I’m partial to writing urban fantasy, so my story is going to be about how the evil Republicans have made a pact with the dark forces in order to win the election, and now the monsters and demons are starting to come out to play. I’m going to bring in my Valkyrie forces from my earlier books, as well as the wizard and his dragon from my first NaNoWriMo story. They will have to fight the demons and bring the country back to the side of good.

Sounds good, right? The question is, how to make it great?

I thought that the first thing I should do is start making a list of all the funny business the Tea Party has on the Republican platform and how it would affect the country if they win and start pushing it through. Things like the cuts to education, which would put most of our kids into a position where they won’t be able to get a decent job. Or the union busting, which opens the way for the elimination of the minimum wage and child labor laws. These things together would likely result in most of America becoming nothing but slaves to the big corporations. Think of history, and the “company store” that coal miners had to put up with. They would work all day for a company and come home owing more back to the company than they brought home. It was a vicious cycle that took the combined efforts of unions and the government to end. I don’t want to end up like that.

So today I am going to try to get my writing done as usual, but I am also going to work on starting my list (I have a little list, they’ll never be missed). For now I’m just going to compile the atrocities on their platform, later I’ll work on putting my thoughts down on what will happen if they get enacted.

Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on the matter. The issues that concern me the most are the war on women and the destruction of our public education system. What are yours? Do the plans of the Tea Party give you nightmares like mine?

As usual, I’ll be back on Sunday with another update. See you then!

4 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, ROW80, The Writing Experience

Short update

I’m not feeling up to a long post today, so I’ll just hit some highlights:

I hit 40,000 words yesterday, which was my goal for August. That means that any more writing I do this month will just be getting me that much farther ahead for September. I’m not sure if the story is going to make it to 60,000 words, but at least it will definitely be finished by the end of this ROW80 round.

I’m also starting to think of what to do for NaNoWriMo. I have a couple of co-workers that I discuss politics with each morning, and I have been telling them that if the Republicans get their way, either the country will fall apart, or we will have another civil war. I am firmly in the Obama camp for the upcoming election, because everything that I know about the Republican platform shows me that they are only out to serve their corporate masters and they will screw the rest of the country to get it done.

Regardless of whatever your political leanings are, the reason I mention it is that I made a comment a week or so back to one of my co-workers that I thought maybe the next story I write should be about the next American civil war/revolution. So that thought has been percolating in the back of my head for a while and I had an idea of how I could take the idea from my first NaNoWriMo story along  with the characters from my Valkyrie series and use them to write something that puts all of it into one place. So here’s a short blurb about the plan:

The country is going to hell. Literally. The Republicans won the election through demonology, and now that they are in power, the demons are getting restless. They break free of their masters and start wreaking havoc. The Valkyries have to step in and try to stop them, but they find that they can’t do it alone. They find a man who has discovered an ancient race of dragons and managed to learn some of their magic and is now teaching it to others. Together, the dragon wizards and the Valkyries take back the country by destroying the demons and the evil men that initially summoned them.

There’s not a whole lot there right now, just a premise and an ending. Now I have to start plotting out all the fine points that go in between. I also want to do a lot of work on the character arcs before I start writing as well. Since I have already written these characters, I have a pretty good idea of what they are like, so there won’t be any discovery writing for this story.

The last thing I wanted to say was THANK YOU to everyone that commented on my last post regarding editing ideas for my superpower story. Feel free to comment on my new idea as well.

That’s about it for today. Not as short as it could have been, but shorter than normal for me. See you again on Wednesday!

2 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, ROW80, The Writing Experience

September 5 – Labor Day

Sorry for the late post today. Even though I started this morning bright and early with the start of a new short story, I only got a few paragraphs into it before stopping. I didn’t get back to it until just a couple of hours ago, and only managed another couple of paragraphs before putting it away again.

I was just feeling lazy today. I’m celebrating Labor Day here in Wisconsin, like most of the people in America. It’s a holiday that celebrates the common worker, and it is thanks to the unions that it is a nationwide holiday. Yes, the same unions that are now being dismantled and criminalized by Republican politicians across the country. Even though I am not a dues-paying member of a union, I am represented by one, and take full advantage of the protections they provide me in the workplace. That’s why the attitude I see by politicians and short-sighted voters makes me sick.

Okay, that’s enough of that soapbox. The other reason for the late posting is that I was hoping to have an answer on my last submission by now. Unfortunately there’s no word yet. I’m still hoping I make the cut and will have my second story published soon, but there is still almost a month before the deadline (September 30) so I’m sure there are many more stories that they will have to review before making their final choices. I know that my friend Zombie Joe is working on a submission as well, and I want to wish him luck. Hopefully I’ll get to hear his first draft tomorrow night at our critique group.

I’m not sure where the story I started this morning is going. I had a dream this morning that got me started, and I think I know where I want it to end, but there is an enormous gaping hole in the middle that I need to fill. So somebody pass me the shovel. I’ve got to get back to work.

See you again on Thursday!

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Submissions, The Writing Experience

Politics and Policies

This last week has been stressful. I work for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and the recent political crisis in Wisconsin is affecting me directly. This has made it very hard for me to work on my writing, but at the same time it has given me a very good reason to keep trying. After all, if things keep going they way they’re headed I may need the additional income that publishing might provide.

In case you have been living under a rock, here is my take on the situation. Last fall, Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin with 52% of the vote. Not exactly a landslide election, right? And yet, immediately after the results were announced he has acted as if he is God’s gift to the Dairy State. Before he even took office he started setting policy by sending a letter to the current Governor Jim Doyle demanding that he cease any efforts to finish off any policies that were currently pending. That included a union contract for state employees that had been in negotiations for the last two years and was close to being finished.

Once Walker took office in January he took official actions that resulted in the loss of millions of federal stimulus dollars and more millions in tax cuts for the wealthy, all while whining about the budget shortfall that he was trying to correct. Then in February he dropped the bomb of how he planned to fix the deficit that he had just made even bigger: by making state employees pay for it. He wanted us to pay a larger amount to our pensions and a greater percentage of health care costs, with no increase in pay.

Now, the main reason why the state employees have those benefits is because their pay is so low to begin with. Even with the benefits package that we have, our overall compensation for the work that we do is roughly 8% less than in the private sector. So with the changes he is proposing it will be like taking an additional 10% pay cut.

But that’s not enough for Walker. He has also proposed legislation that will prohibit state employees from forming a union to represent them in anything but wages, which would also be restricted to the Consumer’s Price Index and linked to inflation. The only unions exempt from this would be for police and fire fighters.

Is it any surprise that one of the first public comments that Walker made after announcing this bill was that he had informed the National Guard to be on standby? The protests of the last week have been peaceful so far, but it should tell you something about Walker. He knew that this was the wrong thing to do, and it was not going to be done without a fight, yet he attempted to ram this through as quickly as possible anyway, without giving the public the chance to speak. His initial plans were to have the bill out of the Finance Committee and through the legislature by Wednesday. The only reason why it wasn’t was because the Democratic Senators left the state to prevent a quorum and give people more time.

Now the unions have said that they are willing to accept the financial changes to the contracts in the interests of the state, but there is no compromise by the Republican Party. The sole intent of this bill is to kill the unions. Other states, and even the President, are watching the situation in Wisconsin very closely. If this passes in Wisconsin you can bet that it will be repeated soon somewhere else.

I don’t really care what your personal political stance is. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t really matter. I have read blog posts that cover both sides of the issue, and both sides make some good points. The important thing about this mess for me is that Governor Walker is attempting to strip me of my civil liberties. Just because I work for the state doesn’t mean that I should be treated like a slave. In my experience most state employees are very dedicated to serving the public, and they don’t deserve to be treated in this manner.

More about me: As I said, I work for the Department of Revenue. I am a tax collector. My job is to get people to pay their taxes. This can mean taking some rather harsh actions, like garnishing wages or seizing bank accounts. My viewpoint was that I was helping people pay their fair share of taxes, whether they wanted help or not. That meant that I was also willing to help them when the collection actions that were taken were too harsh, like reducing the amount of their wages being garnished, or by returning some of the funds seized by a bank levy. If Walker’s proposal goes through, what reason will I have to make those efforts? Why should I care if someone loses their home, as long as their taxes get paid? Isn’t that what the Republicans want? They’re the ones in office, so why not act like them and concentrate solely on getting more money from the middle and lower class?

Thanks for letting me rant. It’s interesting being in the middle of history in the making. Keep watching the news. I’m sure this is just the start.

1 Comment

Filed under About Me, Politics