Archives: Travel

February Writing Update

Doubtless you are all eager to read of my doings and progress on the writing front. Doubtless. Zero doubts, one hundred percent positivity. So, with that completely unwarranted self-assurance motivating me, I’ll update you.

My short story Mischosen was reprinted this month in Cosmic Scream: Digital Horror Fiction Anthology. I’m rather fond of that story. If you haven’t read, here is a chance to check it out. Let me know what you think of it.

I’m nearing the halfway point of current work-in-progress. I should pass the mark by the end of the month. After discussions with MBW I am increasing the amount time each week I put in at the keyboard. The goal is to complete two novels per year. I am receiving some gentle pressure to get some series fiction banked and ready for publication. That will demand a greater time commitment than I had previously allowed. But MBW encouraged me to make the commitment. So let it be written, so let it be done. Or, should that be: So let it be done, so let it be written?

MBW, the HA, and I will be in Seattle next weekend. (A long weekend: Thursday through Sunday.) I’ll be attending Emerald City Comic Con. Sporting a pro badge on my lanyard, so everyone will know how important I am. MBW and the HA will be enjoying the sights. I think they win. In any case, for those of you in the Seattle area, I’ll be in town if you want to say hello.

2018 Plans

I did not make any New Year’s resolutions. I’m rather content, in general, with life. I always strive to improve, of course, for myself and for MBW and the HA. But I don’t plan to drop ten pounds or start exercising. I already maintain a healthy weight and workout regularly. I don’t intend to quit smoking; I never started. I’ve got a steady job and roof over my head. There is always room to grow, to do more, to increase in prosperity. I’ll continue striving. But I don’t feel the need to make any concrete resolutions.

I do, however, have plans for the year.

Happy New Year from Vancouver, B.C.

Happy New Year’s Eve to you all from sunny Vancouver, British Columbia. Yes, sunny. I just peeked out through the curtains of the hotel room and that is indeed blue sky.

The drive up from Portland was in constant, pounding rain. It did not bode well for the rest of the trip. But come the morning, the weather cleared and we’ve had beautiful, but frigid, weather.

It has been thirty years since I spent any significant amount of time in Vancouver. It no longer resembles my memories of the place. All to the good, I suppose.

MBW enjoyed the view over Lions Gate Bridge. The HA adored the aquarium. But then, she always has. She’s an aquarium junkie. This particular aquarium includes an Amazon exhibit, so along with fish she got bonus marmosets.

The beer is good. I mean, British Columbia is still the Pacific Northwest, national border or no, so of course the beer is good. Speaking of beer: What the hell, B.C? I wanted to put a few brews in the hotel room refrigerator, but the nearby stores don’t carry beer. Apparently, outside of certain rural areas, one must purchase beer at liquor stores. Frankly, this is barbaric. I expect better of a civilized nation. I ended up buying a couple of bottles from the hotel bar. Something called Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale, which bills itself as the Pride of Nova Scotia. Honestly, Nova Scotia, unless you take pride in producing an IPA sans hops, a beer that tastes more like a sessionable Scotch Ale than an IPA, I’d look for something else to hang your toque on.

See? You get vital travel advice and trenchant political commentary from this web log.

Now, time to find a family friendly, early New Year’s Eve event. Those of you still in possession of the domestic logistics to stay up until midnight, enjoy the ball drop for me.

Eugene, Oregon

It never rains at Autzen Stadium. At least, it didn’t last night.

The drive down I-5 to Eugene, Oregon suffered from the typical bottlenecks that develop when both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University host home football games on the same day. Occasional squalls and heavy, lowering cloud banks hinted that the night’s game would be a wet one.

LA and a Writer’s Workshop

What a weekend. I’m writing from a hotel lobby in Los Angeles. I mentioned before that a creative organization was flying me down to LA to participate in a writer’s workshop. Well, that’s done. Now I can recap the weekend while waiting for my ride to the airport.

The flight down was fine. Enjoyable even. Shuttle van hell proved less joyful. Let’s just say the trip from airport to hotel required two hours. And let’s never speak of it again.

LA is warm. Did you know that? The blocks are too long and they radiate and magnify the heat. But the tacos are good. Thank you, Daniel, for the tour. Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. Done and done. I’d come back for the tacos at Grand Central Market. The rest is fine, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Karl Strauss Brewing tells me LA’s beer scene is coming along nicely. I could ask for a greater concentration, but as a visitor I’ll humbly accept what I can get.

The workshop was a treat. The list of mentors, faculty, and speakers was — with the exception of yours truly — distinguished. In fact the roster of student/attendees was impressive. I’m not going to name drop, so you’ll just have to take my word.

My part of the proceedings went off without a hitch. I don’t believe I embarrassed myself. The conversations over the course of the weekend scintillated and entertained. Well worth the trip. Hard to believe I got paid for this. I mean, I’m going to cash the check, don’t get me wrong. But the weekend proved more pleasure than work.

I feel energized. I’m looking forward to opening the laptop again once I’m on the plane and letting the words flow. The goal: complete chapter two before Portland.

Lake Tahoe

On the road again. I’m writing from our hotel room in South Lake Tahoe. We drove down Thursday afternoon, stopping in Redding, California where we deposited the HA with her delighted grandmother. (They are currently enjoying a symbiosis wherein the HA gets absolutely spoiled and my mother gets unfettered access to her granddaughter for a couple of days.) Friday we headed east, through the Northern California woods and mountains to Reno, Nevada, where we stopped for lunch at a Brewpub. Then we headed south to Lake Tahoe.

Oregon Coastal Standard

Mention a day at the beach and most people imagine blue skies, bright sun, white sands, and warm ocean waves. I live in Oregon. A typical day at the Oregon coast involves none of the above. I took MBW and the HA to Cannon Beach on Saturday where we enjoyed the Oregon Coastal standard. In between drenching squalls we wandered down the sand toward Haystack Rock braving wind gusts.

Glorious. A fine afternoon.

No, I’m not crazy. (Of course, I might be. How would I know?) Look, I appreciate cloudless skies, palm trees, hammocks, and bare feet as much as the next guy. But a sort of generic, homogenous ideal gets boring. Y’know, eventually. Driving over the mountains in the face of near-blinding horizontal rain in order to bundle up against the cold and comb the beach is most decidedly not boring.

Borderline perfection is nothing to turn your nose up at. But as a writer I have to consider it poor stuff. Who wants to read about an idyllic day frolicking in the sun? Where’s the drama there? No, you need to chase hats blown down the strand, you need to huddle beneath the overhang of a restroom, waiting for a lull in the tempest. You need a clueless driver in front of you to make a sharp left across traffic without a backward glance (good brakes help there.) This is fodder for tales. Sunny beaches make for anecdotes at best. The typical Oregon beach lends itself to stories.

Why the long face, Ken?

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Once again I write from one of the dreary hardship stations where I toil in the phrase fields, reaping sentences and paragraphs for your entertainment. This particular gray, danksome locale is Playa del Carmen, Mexico. That’s right, I’m suffering the horrors of the Mexican Riviera on your behalf.

For example, just to the south is Tulum, where the Spanish first landed, assaulted the Mayan town, and were routed by that metropolis of 10,000 or so. Of course, a couple years later when the Spanish returned there were only 400 left alive in Tulum. So, whether the Mayan’s should count that a victory or not is certainly up to debate. The point is, I had to visit that nghtmarish scene of battle and disease, under the blue sky, against a backdrop of turqoise Caribbean waters. Excruciating.

And more ruins awaited. I was forced to scale the crumbling, hazardous steps of the pyramid in Coba, sight of ritual sacrifice. In this case, I sacrificed for you. I then further endangered myself, plunging into the bottomless depths of a cool, refreshing cenote, some fifty feet or more below ground. I could have drowned, assuming I suddenly forgot how to swim.

In between these labors I sit outside and write. That’s correct, I don’t even allow myself to sit indoors while working through the second draft of Boss. I mean, c’mon. I’m from Oregon. I’m not used to this sort of heat. I must resort to wading through the surf or plunging into the swimming pool to relieve the misery.

I even faced death herself in order to free bottles of tequila from their imprisonment. This I do for you!

And I haven’t yet completed writing the talk I’ll be giving next week at NanoCon Mark IV. That’s right. I proceed from one task to the next.

For you, dear reader. For you.

Well, back to the fields.

Rest

A few days ago I finished the first draft of the novel I’m working on. Huzzah. Glory and trumpets. Time to set it aside, gain some distance from it so I can approach it with fresh eyes for the second draft. Normally this means moving on to the next project. Now, I have a couple of books I’d like to start outlining. But which one depends on an outside factor. Meaning I need to wait. Meaning a chance to rest.

All work and no play make Ken a dull boy.

Repeat.