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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Few More Words On Life

I was just reading over my first post here from 4-1/2 years ago and Wow! Just Wow! I was quite the curmudgeon back then.

While I'm still a bit of a curmudgeon, I think I've softened up quite a bit from back then. A lot of other stuff has changed as well. I spent from January, 2004 through August, 2007 working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a security officer and, to be quite honest, it was one of the best jobs I've ever had. In August, 2007, however, the contract changed hands and I left in a bit of a huff. The new people running the operation there didn't have a clue what they were getting into in my opinion and they had little idea what "continuity of command" meant. They seemed determined, I felt, to put their own people into place ahead of the "old guard" who had been there for years and promoting people who had little experience into positions of authority they really weren't prepared for and/or didn't even want. I felt they were "profit people" rather than "people people" so I got out while the getting was good.

Then, just when things started to look up (I was invited to take the physical to join the police foce at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) I got really sick. On the day the test was being given I was laid up in bed with knees the size of a grapefruit. In December I went into the hospital with a golfball-sized ulcer on my right lung, my left lung partially-collapsed, and both lungs so heavily infected the doctors thought I had tuberculosis. I spent 3 days and 4 nights in an isolation room in the hospital, but fortunately I tested negative for TB and responded well to the antibiotics. I did return to the hospital 3 more times in 2008 for pneumonia and complications due to asthma though so I wasn't at all healthy during most of that year. I did a lot of writing, learning, and thinking during that period though.

In October of 2008 I relocated from California to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for cost of living reasons. My 2 dogs, mother, and aunt relocated with me. It might seem an odd living arrangement, but it works for us (I initially moved in with them to help out after my mother had an iner ear operation from which her hearing and balance never recovered). I'd been wanting to move to Oklahoma since traveling through the state back in 1998 or '99 on a driving vacation (my preferred vacation travel method).

I worked as a security officer for Wackenhut Corporation from October, 2008 through April, 2009 patrolling the BOK Tower, the tallest building in Oklahoma and something like 4 neighboring states, but quit there when our wages were frozen and there was no possibility of moving up or sideways where I was. I also wanted my nights, holidays, and weekends back after a long time.

Currently, I'm working part-time as a bookkeeper for a roofing company, and seeking more gainful employment or to expand my home business while writing.

In 2006 I had my short story "The Meadow" published by Bewildering Stories, an online weekly publication that's been going for a number of years (they're up to Issue #310 or 311 currently). They published my short story "Knock On Wood" in 2007 as I recall and selected it as one of their featured stories for their 2008 1st Quarter Review.

I also completed the first draft of a science fiction novel "Hatchings" in early 2007 and have been polishing it up for the last couple of years. A partial is currently under consideration with agent Jason Yarn at Paradigm Talent Agency.

In the meantime, I'm shopping several short stories around to various publications. My short stories "The Light Of An Oncoming Train", "Night On A Boat", and "The Interview" are currently on the subbing rounds. The first two are part of a sequence I've been working on featuring the private investigator Quentin Dallas. Dallas attracts weird so the stories are a combination of detective thriller and horror with, I hope, a large dose of humor. I've been working, off and on, on another story in the sequence titled "The Midnight Box" wherein Dallas investigates the theft of a rare and valuable Irish box that holds a unique mystery of its own. I think Dallas is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever invented and I owe a lot to Raymond Chandler and especially Glen Cook and his "Garrett, PI" series for the inspiration. I also owe J.A. Konrath for not a little bit of inspiration from his "Jack Daniels" series. If you haven't read Chandler, Cook, or Konrath, I highly recommend them. Konrath's "A Newbie's Guide To Writing" is an invaluable tool (and it's free!). I met Glen Cook at last April's Conestoga 13 in Tulsa and I'd love to get Joe Konrath to come to Tulsa so we can go bookstore-and barhopping together.

I'm currently reading Jack Kilborn's "Afraid", Joe Konrath's "Rusty Nail" and just finished David Gerrold's "Worlds Of Wonder" (another highly-recommended "how to" book for writers that has an incredible amount of information in it).

In the meantime, I make the rounds at Absolute Write Water Cooler and Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Magazine's forum and am a member of the Analog Writer's Group, Critters Online Workshop, the AW Horror Hounds, and a few others. Maybe, one of these days, I might actually sell something.

Who knows? Worse things have happened.

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