Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Why I Went to College

Growing stuff is hard work.

I grew up on a “commuter farm” — 30 acres of bare ground 11 miles away from the two acres my family lived on. I learned to drive on a tractor and I could back a flatbed trailer around a corner before I needed a bra. Note: I cannot do this now. “Use it or lose it” conveys a true concept.

I cut hay, baled hay, bucked hay, herded cattle (on foot, four-wheelers hadn’t been invented and horses were expensive), treated sick cows for pinkeye, picked lavarock out of fields, even irrigated once or twice.

This is why I went to college and studied a physical science. Small-scale farming is hard.

When you get to the size of factory farms, you can get machines to do just about everything. When you have 18 acres in alfalfa and twelve in pasture? It’s not practical to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a haywagon. You pick up the [bleep!]ed bales and toss them around by hand. Mom was 5’4″ (163cm), so our bales only weighed 40-50 lbs, rather than the 90-100 lb standard size (AKA 20kg vs 40kg).

I bring this up because Spooky Man and I are starting a bit of a garden this year. So far, I have a 12×6 ft plot forked and tilled, some compost worked in, and 8 plants planted (2 raspberry and six cherry tomato plants). Really, it’s not big.

We still need to put together the two planter boxes of strawberry plants. Then there are some onions and some kind of mixed seed tape (Spooky Man bought it online, so I’m not sure how it’s supposed to work).

It will get done, but not today. My back is complaining. Loudly.

Stay in school, kids. Ow.

Update, May 2nd: The strawberries and onions are in the ground. I received line edits, so the seed strips will have to wait another week.

Recent Submission Calls

Avon Impulse just sent out a call for novella submissions: Write For Avon Impulse.

Entangled Publishing editor @KL_Grady tweeted yesterday, “You know what I’m dying for right now? Novellas (10k-40k) that are NOT contemp. Paranormal, sci fi, historical, etc. BRING IT!”

Silver Publishing is a relatively new digital-first company (they started at the end of 2009 as a service provider for self-publishers, then reorganized to become a publisher six months later) which has just announced a handful of submission calls: Silver Publishing Special Submissions.

I know I’ve seen some more floating around recently, too. There must be something in the air now that the U.S. weather’s warmed up (well, everywhere but New England). Perhaps pollen causes special submission calls….

In other news, Ubuntu released a new version and Firefox forced me to upgrade to rev 12.0 this week. I’ve written my first user manual for a tablet-browser user interface. Spring is definitely in the air.

The day job might have gotten me some help

Keep your fingers crossed, because I might have found a new technical writer for the California office of my day job. If so, it means traveling to train him, but it also means I’m not trying to keep up with two offices’ worth of projects.

While doing developmental edits for a new editor I’ve never worked with before. And plotting/starting the second book in the Galactic Republic/Stern Reich/ Nippon Empire universe.

No wonder I freaked out about the zombie battle. I was out of coping beans. Ha!

Onward, to The Nobinata Gambit (or whatever title it turns into). No more zombies, but there is a Samurai/Ninja duel during an Imperial Tea ceremony. Really, how could I not?

The Problem with Zombies

You can’t have a big space battle with zombies. They just don’t have the reaction times.

In the last four days, I’ve tried to write this four times. And it was dreck every time, because the good guys looked at each other and said, “Well, I guess we should shoot them now.” Because my zombies are people dying of a mysterious neurological disorder, shooting them only saves them the agony of dying from their zombie-ism.

So then they shoot them.

And the zombie space ships blow up, because zombies have really slow reaction times.

End of battle. Sigh.

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