Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's Snowing.

Not that it's any big deal to some of you. But Spring had already poked its head out of the clouds, and all our flowers are blooming, and now snow is blanketing everything.

My friend was just here, she managed to make it back to the rocking and rolling Midwest before the storm. From unSpringish weather to an earthquake zone. Careful Linds!!

See? It's really snowing. Can't freakin' believe it...

In other news, Every Day Fiction has accepted two more stories from me! Be on the lookout for The Hero and the Horror and Mail, a couple flash tales that I love and editors like enough to publish.

Enjoy your day. Hope it isn't snowing on you!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

You Know It's Spring When Giant Salmon Park Outside Your House

At least that's what I've heard.
Today was our first absolutely perfect spring day. I took care of most of the yard work yesterday--mowed the lawns (saving the dandelions),did some dead-heading (but not like I did in the early 90's), gathered leaves from the flower beds and used them in the compost pile, roped up the sagging butterfly bush of phenomenal proportion, and generally made stuff look nice. So today, when the sun really got going, it was a perfect day for playing outside.
The kids and I were out at around 11 this morning. One of our neighbors strolled by with her two boys. We started talking about the giant fish parked one house over from ours. Three people came walking by, wearing big smiles. They said hello, and asked how we were doing, and were generally happy-seeming, cool, walking-by folk. And they headed straight for the fish.

Well, a giant fish parked in front of the house is one thing. But seeing the people who are with the fish walk up and begin interacting with the fish is a different story. We all walked over. Drawn to the fish.
The fish is named FIN. He's a salmon.

I didn't catch the names of the people traveling with FIN (I'm Kevin, btw). But this is the three of them. I didn't have a lot of time for talking. You see, not only is the giant salmon a giant salmon, but it's a giant salmon that you can get inside. As soon as we found that out, things were a little crazy.

I did manage to find out the important stuff. Like why these three are driving around with a giant salmon behind them.

(click the pic to go to their site!)
These three travelers towing FIN are part of (or perhaps all of, I've not gotten all the nitty gritty) a team called, Save Our Wild Salmon Road Show 2008. They're raising awareness about these four dams along the Snake River that are really messing things up for the salmon. The four lower dams of the Snake are not only wiping out the salmon populations upstream from them, but could pose a threat to the environment in general. I'm so glad FIN parked where he did today.
Having a giant fish that your kids can climb into show up in front of your house is cool, and interesting. Finding out that the giant fish is driving to Washington D.C. to talk to people about these four dams that are destroying salmon populations is even more cool and interesting. Then discovering that these four dams are on a river that has been a part of your life since young childhood is the coolest and most interesting thing about a giant salmon parked outside that there could be.
I quite literally grew up beside the Snake River.
I've jumped into that river from railroad trestles and cliff tops, I've rafted it, swam in it, water-skiied on it, picnicked alongside it, fly-fished in it, tubed it, and camped beside it just about everwhere there is to camp beside it in Idaho. I grew up on the Snake. It's an awesome river, running through Wyoming and Idaho, forming much of the border between Oregon and Idaho, and emptying into the Columbia in Washington.

It is the lifeblood of the small desert town where I grew up. Without it, there would be no town there.
It is the lifeblood of many creatures. Certainly for countless salmon. It is their road to their spawning grounds. It's such a difficult road it's proving impossible.
This is an issue I'm familiar with. It's something that needs to be talked about, and considered, and dealt with. We can't stand by and let a species die for no reason other than ignorance, especially because we don't have ignorance to hide behind. Something can be done.
I read on the Road Show's blog today that four sockeye salmon made it to their spawning ground in Redfish Lake, Idaho.
Why do you think the lake is named Redfish?
I knew the caretaker one year at Redfish. I saw the lake like many people don't get to see it. I didn't see it in writhing red waves, I'm sure the lake was named long before people started damming spawning runs, though maybe when my dad was a kid, the salmon were thick enough to fill the water. But I've seen it when it's still. When there are no humans shouting about its shores, or yelling across its skin.
It is still pristine on the surface. Obviously, it is horribly awry beneath its reflection of the sky.
I can't believe so few fish made it home to a lake named for them. It's more than disgusting.
Show your support for the salmon. Check out their sites and see what you can do.
If you see FIN driving by, give them a wave. If you see them stopped somewhere, be sure and talk to them. Sign their petition. I'm glad I did. I'm sure my neighbors are, too. Nothing draws a crowd like a giant fish in the neighborhood.

Thanks for raising my awareness, Save Our Wild Salmon People. Thank you for doing this for the fish. And thanks for putting up with my crying child, who really, really misses the fish.

Happy Good Journey!

Save the Salmon.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday Mornings Do Not Suck

I love today already. I slept-in until nearly 9AM! Yeah, I know, all you childless, jobless youngins or oldens out there are saying, "Big deal." All you parents of toddling critters know what I'm talkin' about.

So I got out of bed to the smell of coffee. Watched my wife and littlest critter drive away to my wife's appointment this morning. My ten-year-old awoke with me. The dog was still in bed.

Had a cuppa (thank you, Terri! How cool to let me sleep, AND make coffee) and came up here to my computer.

Opened my mail to find a couple of more comments on my story from yesterday. They were good ones, and that rocked. Next message was from Every Day Fiction as well. They accepted another story! AND they said the best things they could ever say to me about it, and my writing in general.

Jordan and Camille (EDF's editors extraordinaire) have been very good to me. Today they are the best to me, and they've become my favorite.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Oh Maaaaaannn....

I just finished writing a most satisfying story. One of my favorite things I've written in a while. (I know, that sounds lame, doesn't it? Hell, it's true, and there's no other way to say it.) It's cracking me up so much. It's a little controversial, but I'm not sure if it's too much so.

I had to send it to my friend Curtis. He's a fantastic writer that I met when he was my manager at a restaurant in Milwaukee. He's also an English teacher. Now he's working at a winery in the Napa valley. Lucky. I think he's the best person to read it right away. I have to have someone read it right now. There's lots of someones to read it, I just know that Curtis will. And with a trained eye.

Having him read it will be as satisfying as it can get right now. My wife likes it, and surely gets it, and that is satisfying--she's a writer, too--smart, my editor, an opinion I trust and rely on (most times)--but she has to live with me, and I read her a lot of my stuff, and she reads a lot of it, and doesn't read a lot of it, and you know how it is when someone who loves you reads your stuff... We need other opinions sometimes, too. So my wife liking it is satisfying, certainly, but only to a point.

I have to wait for those wonderful editors of fabulous flash fiction at EDF to wade through the slush to get to it, after, of course, they've made a decision on one of the three stories I already have submitted there, before it can be a truly satisfying ending to the joy of writing it.

For now, my hopes are on Curtis.

Unfortunately, he may actually be on the road from Milwaukee to California right now. If that's the case, I doubt he'll have time to read it. Maybe. Five minutes. Maybe at a rest area, or in the airport, or somewhere anyway, however he's traveling. It's like having an itch I can't scratch. Hurry, Curtis! Hurry!
Show Me Brave

My flash fiction piece, Show Me Brave, is live at Every Day Fiction today.

Please stop by and give it a read.

It's my fourth story to appear there--THANK YOU EDF!--and it's one I really like. It's nothing like most of my writing. Not a single drop of blood, no time-travel, aliens, or freaky bugs. It's all romantic and stuff. It's a different direction for me, and not one I'll likely take often. We'll see what you all think of it.

If you do go and read it, please leave a comment, and give it a rating. I absolutely love that Every Day Fiction allows that. It's great to get such an amount of immediate feedback about my stories.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Sun Day.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

World Building Falls by the Wayside

Three-year-old and wife's work conspire to destroy planet before it's even built!

Sadly, the world and all its people, plants, and animals will have to wait for their global conflict until there's at least a globe planned out.

The trials and tribulations of writing while keeping house.

Now, we know that all boys dream of growing up to be supported by their wives while they wile away their time, plinking at keyboards, jostling joysticks (oh, MAN, dating myself and also unabashedly alluding to what men do in their free-time!), and creating culinary masterpieces for the family dinner hour.

But boys, being the old fashioned house husband isn't all it's cracked-up to be.

I've got a loose schedule worked out, around my wife's work schedule. As it is, it's not at all my ideal schedule.

Ideally, I'd wake up around 10 or 11 AM, drink a pot of coffee, and write until the afternoon. Then I'd go outside and make the yard pretty, take photos of spiders, build a wall or the raised garden that I need to build, mess with the composting, chat with neighbors, and go on some walks. Then I'd come back in, play with the kids, and eat something that tastes great and feels good that I don't have to prepare. Then I'd watch some recorded BSG or Lost or something, and go back to writing. Someone would bring me chocolate and coffee. (Okay, if we're talking ideals here, my wife would bring me coffee and she would be wearing short-shorts.) I'd write until the kids' bedtime, give 'em hugs and such, eat some chocolate, and have crazy sex with my wife. Then I'd go back to writing. I'd write until 2 or 3 AM, and go to sleep dreaming about my fictional worlds. The next day I'd wake up and do it all again. Not every day would be like that, of course, there would be days to go to the mountains or the beach, days to sit on the porch and drink wine, and days where the kids and I spent the whole day covered in paint in our giant art studio that's never used for storage, and days when I had to get up early to be on Good Morning America, or have to catch a chartered jet to someplace like St. Lucia. Ah, hell, it's ideal day, right? We freakin' live in St. Lucia. Or teleporters have been invented, and I can just go wherever I want when I feel like it. Mostly, I would write. Or world-build.

I would not get up at 7 AM to get the oldest ready for school. I especially would not answer the phone that early and then wake my wife so her boss can tell her that she has to come in three hours early that day. Because that ruins everything. That's three hours of politics, or weather patterns, or naming that thing in the solar system that's just like the Kuiper Belt, but isn't the Kuiper Belt because it's twenty thousand years from now, and millions upon millions of miles away.

Alas, this is all material for the world I wish to build, and therefore, I am apparently building it, though it seems that I'm actually helping the three-year-old build rattles, hammers, and space ships out of blocks and yelling at him to stop running down the hall and stay away from the stairs, while listening the the Backyardigans sing songs about the Lady in Pink and complaining about it all to the world (the one that exists outside my mind).

So now you know.

Boys, take shop class, be woodworkers, mechanics, salesmen, and bankers!

(not really. this isn't so bad.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I'm world-building.

Anyone who's done that, knows what that does to you. Not only do I have a story writing itself in my head all the ding-dang-day, but I've got the specifics of the world to figure out.

I've drawn a map, even.

I feel like a geek, doing it. I'm labeling things, and placing "cities" and mountains, rivers, lakes, weather patterns, making it all planet-like, and possible. I'm designing its solar system, political systems, technological level, raison d'etre, you know, building a freaking world.

And fitting it all into the story. I know half of the building I do won't even matter. I hope! But it's on my mind, and it's taking shape, and I have to know the why's and what-fors so it makes sense to anyone reading it.

It's a whopper, too. At least three novels out of this story, and with an intro that leads to an unlimited supply of future story-fodder. If I do it well, it could be something quite cool.

Doing it well leads to zoning out, not being able to put together a grocery list, and making my three-year-old play with imaginary Teen Titans instead of me. (Not all the time, just while I'm particularly inside my fake world that's not quite cohesive.)

It's rough. But so fun. And hopefully absolutely worth it.

Anyone else out there building a world?

On a different note, Every Day Fiction put out their table of contents for April last night. My flash piece (I've got time to write those!), Show Me Brave comes out on the sixth. Please to check it out. It's not at all like most of my writing. And I put it in a world that exists here on Earth, one I'm quite familiar with--A Mexican cantina.

I'll post a link to it on the day it's live. I hope you visit.

Have great days.

Here's the ToC for Every Day Fiction this month. For those of you regular readers of the zine, you'll notice a great mix of returning writers and newcomers to EDF. I'm looking forward to some great reading this month.

April’s Table of Contents

Apr 1 Matthew Strada The April Fool
Apr 2 Sarah Wagner April Scabs
Apr 3 Rena Sherwood A Hero For Bobo
Apr 4 Bill Ward An Imperfect Swordsman
Apr 5 H. Earl Wilkinson Style
Apr 6 Kevin Shamel Show Me Brave
Apr 7 Jennifer Tatroe Conversation, 9:04 PM
Apr 8 Katherine Shaw Sick Day
Apr 9 Michael Ehart Without Napier
Apr 10 Ramon Rozas III Raindrops Like Cold Kisses
Apr 11 Sarah Hilary An Angel in a Plane Tree
Apr 12 Robert J. Santa Setting Up Shop in Devil’s Gulch
Apr 13 Mike Whitney The Test
Apr 14 Rhonda Parrish Ironic Angst
Apr 15 Sarah Black Leonidas and the T-Bird
Apr 16 David Beers A Trial by Kiss
Apr 17 Scott M. Sandridge The Philosopher in the Dark
Apr 18 Vrinda Baliga Imprisoned
Apr 19 Michael D Turner I am Tired of Bombs and my Dog is Dead
Apr 20 Angela Carlton The Watered Down Version
Apr 21 Oonah V Joslin The Wisdom of Alcuin
Apr 22 Pamela Tartaglio Photocopies
Apr 23 Celeste Goschen Yardie Girl
Apr 24 Patricia J. Hale Sharp Boundaries
Apr 25 Travis King Edward’s Song
Apr 26 Bill West Pretty as a Picture
Apr 27 Lee Beavington A Fungal Fiend
Apr 28 Frank Roger A Tale of Patricide and Impatience
Apr 29 Jill Barth The Sniper’s Son
Apr 30 Tim Lieder Some Day We’ll Meet