Category Archives: To Do List

Construction Notice, and a Warning

Wow, it’s been ten months since I did something other than post a book review on these virtual pages.

I know this because I’ve been going through deleting them.

See, I’ve been thinking about firing up the blogging muscles again, just because they’ve been neglected.  And in looking the old place over, I saw that it needed a coat of paint and some spackling over the holes in the drywall.  And there are boxes of stuff that haven’t been touched in ages that need taken out to the trash.

The book reviews are one of those things, little things that were threatening to take over.  Now if you were a fan of those, don’t worry.  There’s now a link in the right column showing the last few books I’ve read, and there’s also a link to my Goodreads author page on the list o’ self-aggrandizing links.  So they haven’t been eliminated, just relocated… although for a long time the appearance of the reviews here has been a duplication of what I’d put first into Goodreads.

JCF poses with a cannon at Trinity Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

For example, you had to go to my Wikipedia page entry to see this image and suss out that I had been to Russia in 2012. But really, this cannon could have been sitting in front of any old cathedral, right?

So yes, I’m cleaning up a bit and that will include catching you up on what I’ve been up to (for example, I’m 11 chapters into a new novel that hasn’t even been mentioned here; all my SF novels are now available for listening on, which I never mentioned after the fact; and shame on me for not doing a long obituary post for Elmore Leonard, a great writer and American treasure who passed away not too long ago… and I have had some interesting changes to my personal life, but meh…).

So now the warning part: As I was tracking down and zapping the book reviews here, I stumbled on something perfectly annoying – I had somehow missed tagging and categorizing 145 of these posts when I converted the site from Blogger to WordPress.  So I need to go though and do that, preferably soon.  The bad news is that if you have subscribed to this site through e-mail or RSS, this means that the system, which is inherently stupid, will notify you every time I hit the Update button.  So once you start getting notices that make it look like I’ve suddenly become prolific, that’s not the case.  Unless someone at WP had improved the notification algorithm.  I’m letting you know now because I don’t want to be a pain, but this updating is something I really need to do. You have been warned.

So, that’s it for now. More fun and frolic to follow, I think.


The Year Without End Ends

Well, 2008 has been quite a year. I got my daughter back from Russia. I made the decision to put my mother in a nursing home when my wife and I could no longer give her the level of care she required, and then said “see you later” when God took her home.

Well, my daughter is a student now, and my son is in a faraway city, and with mom in the hands of the Lord, my wife and I are real empty nesters now. So what am I going to do about it in 2009? Here are some things I’m considering.

  • Get back on the Wii Fit trail.
  • Finish the “clean house and get rid of unnecessary stuff” project – which may take all year.
  • Learn the 10 songs I’ve finished writing and haven’t yet learned – and learn them.
  • Find the 21 songs I singled out into a “haven’t finished writing but should finish because they’ll probably be good when they’re done” list – and finish writing them. Then I should probably learn them, too.
  • Speaking of my songs, I really should play out more. I’ve averaged one gig a year (except for 2006, which I missed completely).
  • I really should rewrite and edit my novel “,,,and that’s the end of the news”. Then I could use it to find a new agent. Or a publisher. Or both. Don’t know if I’ll get to this one, though.
  • I probably ought to fix that broken Christmas play, too. Again, don’t know if I’ll get there.
  • I need to get the two VBS plays into some kind of shape so they can be sold over the Interweb.
  • I’m also scheduled to write my third VBS show this year, and my first Christmas Pageant. I know I’ll get to those.
  • In October/November of this year I designed a game involving Zombies. Playtested it over Thanksgiving with my son, daughter, and assorted relatives. Now I need to tweak the rules and try another playtest. But when?
  • Finally, I need to get back on the reading wagon. Maybe I’ll buy a Kindle and forget about a lot of that unnecessary writing stuff.

It should be an interesting year.

Vote Early and Often

A couple of things about voting. First of all, my work colleague and carpool buddy, Sean McArdle, has a comic book project in the top three of Platinum Studios’ 2008 Comic Book Challenge. He’s made the jump from the Top 50 to the Top 10 thanks to the judges, and voters have put his project into the Top 3. Now it’s up to voters to choose the top entry, which will win, among other things, a publishing contract with Platinum – kind of like American Idol, only with super powers and wearing spandex. Wait a minute…

(Speaking of Idol and voting in this manner, I’ve never seen the logic in letting people cast as many ballots as their endurance allowed – especially since there’s technology to at least slow it way down. I suppose they went the easy route and decided if you can’t totally beat them, join them Oh, well.)

So here’s the link to Sean’s project. Vote early and often. And here’s the main page if you want to get a look at the competition.

In the meantime, I’m done with the redesign of this site. When I made the flip to this current version, I said I had been in a mood when I came up the the previous design. Well, I must have been in a mood when I did this one, too. Have you looked at it lately? Manila folders with red Dynamo labels, indeed.

Anyway, the new design is a lot cleaner and uses some tricksy CSS technology to display the data. I’m happy with it, and I think I’ll work until I change my mind again. So far, that happens about once a year or less.

Look for the redesign to launch on September 3rd, in conjunction with… something else.

I’m also in the process of compiling a to-do list that I thought I would post here. Long-time readers know that I do this from time to time to push myself to get things done. It’s no quite ready, but I’ll get it posted soon, I hope.

But don’t look for immediate progress when the list goes up. I’m a little busy until after the first Tuesday in November:

Update, or, When I Have Nothing To Say, My Lips Are Sealed… Mostly

In the last two weeks, two people have told me that I really should post to the blog more often. So I guess it must be time for an update, even though I don’t have much to report, and what there is is probably insubstantial if you’re sitting on the other side of the screen reading.

For example, my mother has been in and out of the hospital again, draining time and energy. She’s okay for now, thanks, with specialist appointments coming up to see if they can figure out what is causing these spells of hers.

The Darkest Month is over, but I don’t know if my mood has changed any. My wife had me taking B Vitamin Complex, saying it might boost my mood. I didn’t notice any difference, so I quit taking them. She says she noticed a difference. I started taking them again. Then we ran out. I still feel about the same as I did when this whole enterprise started.

Maybe I should save this for the other blog I never update, but a family of raccoons has again moved nearby, making attempts to pillage the goat and chicken feed, the chicken eggs, and the chickens themselves (relax, the chooks are okay, just so frightened they want to live on our front porch). The racs don’t like the layer mash, which has brewer’s waste in it (kind of beery smelling), but they go for the sweet feet and chicken scratch. Picked up a new set of traps at Tractor Supply over the weekend. Have capped two young racs since, and will have to dispose of a third when I get home from work tonight. If it goes like it did last year, I’ll run out of the kids and pretty soon momma will blunder into the trap.

If it hasn’t been finished already – I don’t keep count, and just check every now and then – I’m about to complete my 50th song. Still no progress on recording it or the 49 that came before, and no progress playing out. Between mom and the raccoons, where’s the time?

My son and daughter are having adventures. Son is being laid off with two months’ notice by the giant corporation he works for. They’re giving a generous severance and retraining package, so he’s changing career course while he’s still young enough for his bones to bend. Daughter is still in Russia and faced getting run out a couple of times due to changes in their Visa policy. So recently she had to step out of the country long enough to get her Visa stamped, and now everything should be spinning in its bureaucratic groove. I’d tell you more, but she has been adroitly chronicling her adventures here.

I have a work colleague who thinks I should turn one of my novels into a graphic novel. I’m poking at that idea with a sharp pencil.

Meantime, the big project on the plate is this year’s Vacation Bible School adventure, which will feature a wild west theme. I haven’t told any of the principals at church this, because they won’t understand it, but I don’t have anything on paper yet. That’s because I’ve been working on it in my head. I’ll start typing hopefully soon, with an eye toward having a finished script at the end of April/beginning of May, Mom and Raccoons permitting.

Finally there is that novel that needs a final draft and that play that needs another draft. Sheesh, you look at all of the above and tell me when that is going to happen.

So there’s the update. Told you it wasn’t much. Y’all sure you want more frequent updates?

The Next Move

So over the holiday break I’ve been making tiny mental deposits about A Father Christmas, but I’m thinking that the reworking of the script is going to take longer than the six weeks or so that remain for me to get it in during the month of February. There’s lots of work to be done, and given the way that my writing time tends to evaporate anymore, there’s just no way I’m going to make it – especially since I’ve got to rethink so much of the way the story unfolds. So for the moment the show is on the back burner, but now my directoral bow probably won’t be until 2008.

With that delay – or should I say creative procrastination – in mind, the end of the year finds me pondering what my next creative move will be.

Here’s one of the things I’m thinking about. Around last year at this time I was thinking about playing out for a second time – and perhaps more. I’d even flirted with the idea of playing out once a month. But I haven’t played out at all this year. And while I was working on this year’s two principal projects, A Father Christmas and The Terrible Misfortune, my songwriting pretty much fell off the face of the earth, after a fairly productive 2005.

Hence, one of my thoughts is to take a year off of writing and work on my music – songwriting, performance, singing, and just general practice and learning more on the guitar. I thought of doing this because within a couple days of finishing work on A Father Christmas, songs started coming out of me again.

A couple of other things. Since discovering,I’m thinking about self-publishing The Mushroom Shift again.

I’d e-published it several years ago, and did it, as it turns out, just a couple of weeks before the outfit I’d chosen to do it changed their business model and got out of that part of the business. Going with Lulu would give folks the choice of getting the novel as an electronic file, or, thanks to the magic of print on demand, as a traditional book. It would also be available through places like Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

(Not that this is a huge undertaking. I’ve got all the files for the publication project, and I could probably do it in the space of an afternoon. But I would have to make some kind of ongoing effort to promote the book.)

Then there’s book projects, always looming. Deadline, which I’m about a third of the way through, and and that’s the end of the news, finished in first draft and idle for three years, waiting for revision. Add to these the notion I’ve had to blog a novel as I write it, letting all of you folk out there read and comment on it as I go.

Of course, a year is a long time. I could combine work on a number of different things, say, publish The Mushroom Shift, then work on the music while tinkering with an appealing book project. It’s just a matter of sorting out which and what and when.

I’ve got a few days before the new year to think about it. And technically, I don’t have to start anything smack at the start of 2007. It’s just a convenient time to do it, but I don’t know that I’m all that obsessive about the the timing.

Or maybe I’ll just do nothing for a year.

Well, I’ll see what my subconscious has to say about that.

the TV set

(written by hand with the lap desk and using The Pen. More about The Pen in a couple of days)