Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dad, Discovery, And The Aha! Moments In Life

I waited as patiently as an 11-year-old can wait. Back in those days (no, not quite when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), there was no Internet. I had no way of knowing whether or not the check my dad sent off to Edmund Scientific even arrived, much less whether or not they had shipped the item to us.

The catalog promised 6 – 8 week delivery. It took 9 ½ weeks, but it was worth the wait.

We carefully opened the box and there it was. A gleaming white tube mounted on a gun-metal gray tripod: my telescope.

Despite the late hour, Dad, being the great dad that he is, set it up for me in the back yard. I watched him align everything just so and then he turned me loose. I wasn’t sure yet exactly what I was seeing, but I remember shivers playing on my spine as peered through the eyepiece.

The next night I couldn’t wait to try again. My dad wasn’t available to help me so I figured I’d just set it up myself. How hard could it be? The answer to that question turned out to be very!

Just carrying the telescope on its heavy, well-constructed tripod was too much for me. I had to take it apart and then reassemble it out in the yard.

Then came the alignment of the scope so it was level and faced north. I had watched my dad perform the task the night before, but I had watched through the eyes of an excited kid. In other words, I really hadn’t paid very close attention.

So now it was up to me. I dug into the instructions but nothing made sense. I tried several things but the telescope didn’t look at all like it had the night before. Frustration set in and I wanted to give up, but I wanted the result more. I kept at it and then, finally, the “Aha!” moment arrived. Everything clicked into place in my mind and it all made sense. I breezed through the rest of the setup and was using my new telescope in just a few minutes.

Although that night is now many years in the past, I still remember it clearly. It was nothing short of magic, the exhilaration of having figured it out for myself and the certainty that I’d be able to use my telescope whenever I wanted, not only when someone was around to help.

The “Aha!” moments, that instant of discovery when everything makes sense and all the pieces fit, can be sweet indeed. Not coincidentally, they frequently are preceded by frustration and the desire to just chuck it. The trick is to remember that the “Aha!” moment is just around the corner when you’re in the middle of the “awww-crap!” moment. Luckily, that little trick does seem to come easier with age and experience.

To this day, I go out of my way to try and learn, discover, and keep the “Aha!” moments coming. I’ll grant you, as I’ve gotten older and day to day living has taken a toll, they don’t come as often as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still out there, just waiting for me to put forth the effort to find them.

This search for the thrill of discovery is one reason I write. I want to share the feeling, the “Aha!” moments, with you through my characters. In the process, I’ve happened upon many, many of my own.

My favorite is when I finally figure out where a story is going. The characters are always trying to tell me, but sometimes I just can’t hear them. Once I understand what they’ve been trying to tell me all along, my instant of discovery, my “Aha!” moment, arrives and the whole story makes sense. Then it’s just a matter of getting it down on paper!

Before I wrap this up, one more thing about that first night with my telescope. I recently found out that my dad was around the house that evening. He was, in fact, secretly watching my progress from the garage. He wanted me to figure it out for myself and didn’t want to deny me the satisfaction of doing so. For that and many other things, Dad, I am eternally grateful.

Thanks for reading!

The Collective@Amazon
Now Only $1.99 - The Collective@Amazon

Time Slice@Amazon
Time Slice@Amazon


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Time Slice is Here!

I'm very excited to announce that my 2nd novel, Time Slice, is now available!

You can buy it on in either Kindle format or Paperback.

Many thanks to my agent, Dawn Dowdle, of Blue Ridge Literary Agency for getting my story published. I had given up on it, but she never did.

Stay tuned for updates on the crazy and scary world of trying to market Time Slice. Writing was the easy part ...

Keep reading!


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

I was very sad to read in the paper this morning that Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90.

I'm currently in the middle of reading his "Rama" books for about the 10th time.

Even though I know he was no longer an active writer, it was always nice to think that there was a chance, even if it was a tiny one, that a new Arthur C. Clarke book might come out.

If you haven't read any of his work, I would strongly urge you to try at least one and see what you think. I believe I've read nearly everything he's ever written, but my favorites are definitely the 4 Rama books. As I said earlier in the post, I've read them many, many times but I still enjoy them.

It's been said many times, but they literally don't write em like that anymore. Maybe I've been looking in the wrong places, but I'm not sure that his work would even be published if he were a young, upcoming writer today. Nearly everything I see on the new deal list from publisher's marketplace is an urban fantasy, or magic. Very little hard science fiction.

And the beauty about Mr. Clarke's books was the fact that he made hard science fiction entertaining. It wasn't so steeped in science that it was boring, yet he was often prophetic in his writings about future technologies. A rare combination, and one that we might not see again for a long time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Everyone has their favorite reading spot...

I think most people who like to read have their favorite spot. Mine is the plaid chair in the corner of the bedroom. I flip on the little light next to the chair and sit blissfully reading before I go to bed. That usually only lasts about 10 minutes because I get too tired, but that's the way I like to read...a little at a time.

Apparently, the guy driving next to me on the way to work this morning has his favorite spot's just a little unusual (at least I hope it is!).

Now, when I drive to work, it's still a good half hour or so before the rooster crows. This morning, it was also very windy and a little bit of rain/snow was filtering down from the gray overcast. A good morning to pay attention to the road, wouldn't you say?

As I made my way down the highway, holding steady at 65 mph, I could see that quite a few cars in front of me were abandoning the right lane and heading over to the left to pass something/someone. I thought there might be an accident or someone pulled over on the shoulder so I did the same.

Well, it wasn't an least not yet. Instead, it was a little white car with it's interior dome light on. At the wheel, a man with a book spread out across the steering wheel: he was completely engaged in the story. Occasionally, like a deer looking up from grazing to see if a predator was close by, he'd steal a look out the windshield, and then return to his story.

I glared at him as I passed but, of course, he wasn't looking. I hope he made it work without taking himself or someone out.

There's only one possible acceptable excuse for his actions, but I don't think he was reading a book that I wrote, so I can't forgive him.

Keep writing...and reading, but not while you're driving!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Dear Writer's Digest:

I am writing to you today concerning your recent short story contest. Seeing that today is the deadline for winners to be notified, and given the fact that I have not yet received my notification from your fine publication, I must admit I am confused.

I double checked both my email and snail-mail addresses when I sent in my entry, so I'm not sure how my "You're a Winner" notification could have been misplaced. Perhaps a clerical error, or maybe a jealous rival within the ranks of your magazine? Just something for you to look in to.

After the notable absence of any correspondence from your judging panel, I checked your website myself for the list of winners. Imagine my surprise when, upon perusing said list, I still did not see my name among the top 25! A misplaced email, I can understand, but forgetting to list me on your site? That goes well beyond negligence.

Therefore, I am writing to let you know that I formally withdraw my entry, Earth's Guardian from consideration. So, just to clarify, I do NOT expect to see my story in your June 2007 issue along with the other winners. If I do see it, you will be hearing from my lawyers, Schister & Schister. Any magazine which cannot properly manage a short story competition and notify winners of said competition in a timely manner is not worthy of my or any author's time.

Good day.

(In case you can't tell, I didn't win) :(