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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


I don't know if it is the late time, the fatigue of the day finally getting to me, if it is simply my unusual mind finding a way to amuse itself...

But I find myself wanting to be challenged by going a whole day without saying a specific sound.  It may be difficult.  I seem, though, to be able to do it, to put my thoughts into cohesive, well-made sentences that still sound decent.  Let's see how long I can keep it up.  Some things I want to say need me to find inventive ways to convey them.  And that is the fun thing about this challenge.  Don't make it too difficult, too odd.  You don't want it to be impossible.  Then again, going all day without SAYing it may not be a good idea.  I might pause in mid-sentence,  take a long time to put my thoughts into something intelligible, even back up when things get out of hand.  So maybe, just maybe, I could make a tale, a fable, that has a distinct lack of this specific symbol.  On second thought, too many things have this symbol... plus if I don't call attention to it, no one might notice.  If I do call attention to it, the plot itself might seem weak, a gimmick.  I wouldn't want that.

I could just make a blog post...

Monday, July 11, 2016

California Dreamin'

Memory is something that is subjective, unreliable, easily-swayed, and often flawed, but it also forms the very foundation of who we are.  What are we if not the sum of all our experiences, the sum of our memories?  Most people think they have an excellent memory, but most people are quite wrong.  I think my memory is pretty good, and I have some evidence to back this up, but I am probably wrong as well.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation about earliest memories.  What is your earliest memory?
Most people didn't remember things until they were in kindergarten or first grade.  One woman claimed she didn't remember anything until second grade.  I remember stuff from when I was 3.  Not 3rd grade.  Just 3.  Maybe even earlier.  And it's not a little.  I remember a good deal.  Granted, it is probably wrong, probably jaded or influenced by later thoughts. However, anything I remember from California is likely from before the age of 6.  This is what I remember.

One of my first memories is when I escaped the den and got into the kitchen.  I was an early reader, and apparently around 2 or 3 I could read some words, words I had a vested interest in... namely the word "sugar."  I remember thinking it was a weird word because it didn't sound the way it was spelled.  I knew sugar was a white, granulated substance that starts with an S and is found in the kitchen.  So when I found a small blue box of the stuff, I downed it.
To this day, I still cannot stand anything that is over-salted.

But there are more.  So many more.  I remember the dog, a standard poodle, running me down in the back yard after it escaped from the gate/got away from the person at the gate.  I don't remember anything AFTER that.  I remember that there was  tall red or brown fence and a very large dog on the other side that would peek over it at us, but I honestly can't tell you what the dog looked like.  I remember the back yard, the swing, there was something else back there, electrical... perhaps a pole. I remember when they were building the addition to the house, there was sawdust in the driveway and I had on shoes with tiger stripes on them... so I thought if I stepped in the sawdust it would look like tiger footprints and scare people.  I don't think it worked.

I remember the massive house at the bottom of the hill that had the most amazing christmas decorations every year.  I remember when mom and dad went to Germany and we got to stay with our grandparents for a while.  I remember my grandparents' house... the back yard where there was a citrus tree and cat tombstones behind the bushes, a large, covered back porch wit ha screen-in room, a large avocado tree grew near the stairs and we used to swing on the branches.  There was a crawlspace under the house we used to play in, especially when cousins were over.  There was Amos, the dog that would sing with grandpa.  In the back room, there were pictures my sister drew before she died.  We had Christmas there one year, all our stuff on a hard, red-cushioned sofa.  I remember grandma sitting us kids down because someone dialed 911 and hung up.  I remember getting in trouble for touching (literally, I just TOUCHED) grandpa's stereo system.  This was after I was already in time out for swinging on the avocado branches. There was a wooden den you had to step down into with an old dial TV that clunked when you changed the channel.  Teddy Ruxpin was a show I used to watch on it, with my very own Teddy Ruxpin beside me.  I have so very many vivid memories of their house.

One of the earliest memories I have is from a dream.  Mind you, I was 2 or 3 at the time.  I used to lean down and "spit" (inject saliva?) into the carpet.. I have NO idea why.  It stopped after this dream.  I did it and mom and dad wanted to see me.  They were in bed, only on the side they normally weren't on.  Dad asked what it was I did and I explained it.  He wanted to try, but wouldn't get out of bed, so I got an old VHS tape and handed it to him.  After he spit into it, he got red and the top of his head popped open.  Things of all sorts, like those fake snakes in the peanut can, flew out of his head.  That one freaked me out.

I remember being potty trained.  I remember asking how much toilet paper to use to wipe.  Mom used to have us sing a little song (to the tune of "Beethoven's 5th", "I am all dooooone."  and if it was number two, we would complete the phrase with "going poopooooooo!") so she would know to come in and wipe us (don't ask, she has issues with cleanliness).  We had little potties that we took in the van with us on long trips.  I even remember some of those long trips.. the Grand Canyon where dad pretended to fall in and freaked out mom.  Once we were in the desert and needed to use some sort of bladder to cool the engine... not really sure.  And we had little white harnesses with leashes to keep us all in check.  Nowadays, they hide those things like little backpacks made of animals, but kids still know them for the straight jackets that they are.

I remember seeing a picture of a girl in our house, a girl I didn't recognize.  I believe I may have seen it in grandma and grandpa's house, too.  When I asked mom about it, she told me it was my sister in Heaven.  She didn't really say much more about her, other than her name.  Little did I know that the wounds were still very fresh to her.  After all, what is two or three years?

I remember seeing my dad's parents a few times in their home in California.  We didn't spent as much time with them, but we did like playing with Marc, our older cousin, the only one on that side of the family. He was in a wheel chair and we always get his hand-me-down underwear.

Perhaps my first memory, however, is when my grandmother... or was it my great grandmother... died.  I have only one memory of her... visiting her in a hospital or hospice room... seeing her on a bed in a strange place.  And then, a short time later, having to dress up to go to a funeral for her.

The more I delve into my memories, the more come back to me. Swim lessons, the old house, the old pets, throwing a wooden block at my brother's head (the scar is still there), having my brother's hairy birthmark removed (the scar is still there), seeing gaps in the bark of the tree in the front yard, going to school, my brother's first "girlfriend," teasing him about her, my first crush, taking forever to get to school if grandma or grandpa drove, slamming my foot in the door in the parking lot at the school, the poem I wrote in Kindergarten which won some sort of award (The Windbow), releasing tons of balloons from the church grounds, learning that if you poke a snail its eyes withdraw, ringing the bell at the church (or trying to, we didn't weight enough to pull the rope down too far), visiting my sister's grave with flowers, the Donut Man playing songs at our preschool, explaining to the class that both 2+4 AND 4+2 both equalled 6, hearing an autoharp for the first time, when my sister stepped on broken glass, when we celebrated by dead sister's birthday with spaghetti (her favorite), the many trips to Disneyland, the first time I stole something (a small piece of wood in the shape of an owl I think), our first ice cream cone (sitting on the washing machine so mom could clean us AFTER our first ice cream cone), Haley's Comet coming by and claiming I couldn't see it when I did (I was 4 then), bathing with all three of us in the tub at once, the little jingle on TV for a mexican restaurant (Ay-yi-yi-yi someone stole my taco!), learning how to read hyphenated words...

Perhaps that is enough nostalgia for now.  But I like to think that I was formed in those days, that those memories are someone at the core of who I am.  I feel sorry for people who don't remember these childhood formations. But perhaps this is why I have always been in touch with my "inner child."  In a sense, I still am that child.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Episode VII - The Return of the Blogger

I seem to post apologies to this blog more and more often for being absent.

I'm not sorry this time. No! My wife and I had another baby a few months ago and we have been busy.  I joined the Masons (which means I now have things to memorize).  I am trying desperately to find time to work on my novel.  I'm struggling with a personal crisis.  I'm drowning in housework.  I'm tired all the time, and cranky most of it.

But I am still here.  I am still alive.

Some of you may have come here from my short stories.  Some from my meditations in Forward Movement publications.  Some may even be here because of my open letter to Brian May (still my most popular post).  But whatever the reason, know that I'll get back to posting.  It may be sporadic, but it will happen.

In the meantime, enjoy a laugh.

Friday, November 6, 2015


These are some thoughts I had while researching for a story I'm interested in writing.  Tell me what you think.

There is talk about immortality.  Will we use the immortal jellyfish, which turns its entire body into essentially an embryonic state, or the axolotl, which can turn specific cells into such a state and regrow limbs?  Perhaps both.  We may very well be able to form new cells for everything that wears out in the body, thus not only becoming immortal, but forever young.
There are some drawbacks to this, despite the obvious ones of overpopulation and social unrest due to cost (which is a story I am interested in writing).
The first drawback is that you WILL lose muscle memory.  They are finding that a lot of our information is not actually stored in the brain, but in the muscles and nerves.  For instance, if I had to regrow my left hand, I would essentially have to learn how to play guitar all over again.  Sure, it would be in my head, but I would need to retrain my fingers.  In fact, if you regrow limbs, you’ll essentially need physical therapy to learn how to use them again.  It is feasible that they will find a way around this, however, but I’m not sure how.
The second is more serious.  It doesn’t matter how we achieve immortality; we could regrow an entire body and have a brain transplant; we could regrow an entire body and figure out how to implant the information from one to the other; we could simply regrow every organ/limb/cell needed and transplant them; but no matter what we do, the human brain is not wired to achieve immortality.  The mind itself will age, EVEN if we manage to grow new brain cells and replace the old ones.  It is the information that does it; after a hundred years, our brains are going to have real difficulty storing and accessing memories.  This is one of the reasons people have memory issues as they get older.  Despite the amazing wonder that is the human mind, it has limitations.

This second drawback, the lack of storage space in the brain, can probably be overcome.  I believe the only way we’ll be able to achieve immortality AND retain our sanity is through cybernetic augmentation.  That’s not to say we’ll all connect to the internet or have super strength or junk like that.  Nor is it to say we’d have computer chips in our heads.  Rather, I think nanotechnology would be involved.  We would essentially have little bots that go through our brains on a regular basis and erase old information through restoring the cells, but taking the information erased and putting it into some sort of database that our minds would have access to.  There would likely be some things that remain: core memories, recent memories, recognition of family and peers, etc.  Some things might be erased completely: the trip to the store 20 years ago to pick up milk.  Anything of importance, however, would be stored.  The way we think would change.  Instead of accessing memories, we’d be accessing a program that would draw out the pertinent memories from a database.  Our brains would change to learn how to interact with the program, or perhaps the program would have to learn when to interrupt the brain’s natural process of trying to recall information.  I think this merits more research…

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Dragon and the Librarian

I just submitted two short stories to this weeks-long contest, hosted by Signum University.  This week's inspiration is "Here Be Dragons!"

If you would like to vote for my short stories, please do so QUICKLY by following the link here.

The first is entitled "The Librarian and the Dragon," and is a piece of flashfiction about a librarian who discovers a dragon who hoards books.

The second is entitled "The Dragon and the Librarian" and is a piece of flashfiction about a book-hoarding dragon who is discovered by a librarian.

Yes, they are the same small story, but from differing points of view.  I hope you enjoy them and please vote!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Not quite an Inkling

I have no short story for you this week, though I did write one.  I have been busy with another round of edits on my novel.  This one is the first round after critiques have come back.  A very important round indeed.  Thankfully, most of the critics have enjoyed my work for the most part, which gives me hope.  The things I must fix are not major roadblocks, but they will take a little time.  I still want to finish before the end of the year.

What happened to that short story I wrote?  Well, it's here.  I entered into a writing contest and will continue to enter these contests every week.  So instead of reading my shorts on this blog for a little while, I would be greatly honored and thankful if you could find it on the link above and vote for mine.  :)

This week's entry is entitled, "Discount Souls."

And don't worry - any of the short stories that don't win (which, lets face it, will probably be all of them) will end up here eventually.

Friday, September 11, 2015


This short story is rated PG (though the subject matter would probably be PG-13).

“So have you gotten any acceptance letters back, Sumners?” Mitch asked with a knowing smugness.  The locker room was where we always had out little tête-à-têtes, no matter how crowded it got, which it usually was after gym.  To be honest, the crowd was part of the fun.

“Yeah, a couple,” I said with as much disinterest as I could muster.

“Oh really?   Where to?  Anything good?

“Well my fallback came through,” I said and suppressed a grin as I pulled my shirt on.  To give him the full impact, I waited a good 10 seconds before telling him.  “Carnegie Mellon.”

More than a few eyes turned my way.  Whispers of “fall back?” and “Jack Sumners?!” made that grin blossom into a toothy expression of victory.

Mitch did not seem phased.  “Oh, Carnegie.  It’s good.  Of course, not as highly rated as Duke,” he replied.

The speed of disappointment could be measured in my face.  It was on.  “Of course, that’s just my fall back,” I said.

“Mine, too,” Mitch replied. 

“I think we all know who your number one is.  You’ve been trying to get to Oxford since you were ten.”

“It’s better than you could deliver.” He closed his locker hard and glared at me.  “So what’s your numeral?  CalTech?  They’d never bring you interrobang.”

“What was that?  You were mumbling.”

“I said they’d never take someone with your fuselage.”

I stared at him for a few seconds, then looked around the room, but everyone else was pretending not to be listening.

“My fuselage?  What are you talking about?  Besides, I’ve got plenty of extracurriculars, and my SATs are perfect.”

It was Mitch’s turn to stare.  “What?  You’re not making sense.  Do you applebottom spouse yourself?”

I shook my head.  “What?  I’m not the one making no sense.  Are you feeling alright?”

“Jack you tire booze of lingular.  Drizzle you wombat?” He walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  More gibberish came from his mouth.

“What is going on?” I gasped as a thought occurred to me.  “Oh my God, Mitch, I think you’re having a stroke.  Can you smile?”  I’d learned all about strokes after my grandfather had one a few months before.  The best way I knew to make certain was to see if his smile was crooked.

“I…” Mitch started, but he must have realized we couldn’t understand each other.  He grabbed John, who was on his way out, and pulled him towards me.  More gibberish came from Mitch.

“John, you’ve got to help Mitch.  I think he’s have a stroke, but he can’t understand me.  The same thing happened when my… what?  Why are you all looking at me like that?”

At this point, the entire locker room was staring at me.  John tried to help me sit down on the bench. I resisted.  “Tutor brickelage?”

“Is this a prank?  It’s not funny.  Get away from me!”  I pushed at John and Mitch, but my right arm didn’t seem to work.  My balance shifted and I tried to catch myself, but my leg wouldn’t move, either.   Before I knew what was happening, I was falling.  My head hit the bench hard.  Everything went black.

I was told most people don’t survive their first stroke.  I wish I hadn’t.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Sinister Love - Temptation

The following short story takes place in the universe of my upcoming novel, A Sinister Love.  I hope you all enjoy this glimpse into the world.  Please let me know what you think and feel free to share the link to this page.

This story is rate PG-13 for mild adult themes.

A Sinister Love: The Temptation
(by Spencer Hixon)

           “Come along, Mud-Face,” the serpentine lizard said as it crawled along the verdant floor of Paradise. 
“It’s Brown-Noser, sir,” replied the smaller lizard that skittered along beside him.
“That’ssss a terrible name.  You should get a proper name, a good name, a name like, ‘Rotworm.’  Now there’s a good name!”
Brown-Noser rolled his yellow eyes.  “Sir, that’s your name.  I’m not going-”
“Then Rotworm Junior.  I don’t know.  Shut up!  Do you remember the plan?”
“Not really, sir.  The last seventeen plans didn’t exactly work out.”  Brown-Noser began to run to keep pace with Rotworm.  It seemed the underbrush in Paradise was no hindrance to the larger lizard’s stride.
“What do you mean?  I nearly had her with the Forbidden Fruit Salad.”
Brown-Noser let out a cute little sigh. “Until it turned out she was allergic to the strawberries you added.”
“Well how was I supposed to know that?  I didn’t know human bodies could do things like that.”
“Don’t forget the time you tried to hypnotize her in her sleep.”
Rowtorm’s forked tongue flicked about as he hissed a laugh. “Oh yessss, that was fun.”
“Or when you tried to throw the Fruit into her mouth when she was yawning.  I thought she was going to choke to death.”
Rotworm stopped and looked at the lizard with a predatory sneer. “Aren’t you suppose to be helping me?  You’re not very good at your job, are you, Dung-Sniffer?”
Brown-Noser stood perfectly still on one of the roots of a large, nearby tree, staring at his superior as if his worried gaze alone could keep him at bay.  “Um… no?”
“And don’t you forget it.  Now, the plan.  Once I have the woman talking to me, all you need to do is knock down the Fruit.  At my ssssignal.”
Brown-Noser nodded quickly.
“Remember my signal?”
Brown-Noser shook his head.
“When I say the words, ‘If only you could reach them.’  Got it?  Good.  Now quickly, scamper up that tree.  Don’t let her ssssee you.”
“Why are we doing this, again, sir?”
“Get going!” Rotworm hissed and watched as his subordinate quickly pitter-pattered his way up the nearby tree.

Several hours passed with Rotworm curled into a ball under the tree's brightly-colored foliage.  He had fallen asleep and was completely oblivious to the dark-skinned, naked, young woman walking towards the tree, following a path of berries.  A path that led right up to the lizard.
“Ah! Get offa me!” Rotworm cried out as she stepped on his tail.
“Ahh!  I’m sorry!” the woman cried and backed up.  “Wait.  Did you just speak?”
“Oh, Eve! It’s you,” the lizard replied, ignoring her question.
“Y-yes, it’s me.  But… you’re not Adam.  How are you… talking?”
“Me?  Talking?  Well of course I can talk!” Rotworm rattled out. “It’s not like animals can’t talk, right? I mean, I’m no demon or anything, possessing this poor creature.  I can talk.”  He gave an all-too-innocent laugh.  He was sure that he was caught.
Eve tilted her head some and nodded to Rotworm. “Well, I’ve never heard other animals talk. And you’re not a demon, you said so yourself. So... are you an angel?”
A stunned expression settled into Rotworm’s features, amazed that his desperate lie seemed to actually work.  Slowly it faded to a smile. “Ah, I see.  You are not used to the acts of prevarication, deception, or fraudulence.”  As predicted, Eve just stared at him blankly.  “Yes, an angel!  I lured.. er… left that trail of berries here for you to follow.  I wanted to talk to you.”
“But how are you able to talk?” Eve replied.
Rotworm frowned.  “I told you, I’m an angel,” he said, but Eve just looked him over.
“You don’t look like an angel.  Maybe you hit your head and only think you are an angel.”
With a sigh, Rotworm said, “Fine, it’s evolution.”  Nothing.  “Anthropomorphism?  Wishful thinking?”  Eve continued to look confused.  “It’s a miracle,” he stated flatly.
“Ah, a miracle!  The Lord has certainly been surprising us with those lately.”
Rotworm let his tongue sniff at the air in front of him as he slinked up to Eve’s leg.  “You know, all of those big words I’ve used aren’t so hard to understand.”  His tail flicked up towards the tree, pointing at one of the bright fruits it bore.  “The Fruit of Knowledge can show you what they mean.  If only you could-“
“But God told Adam that we weren’t supposed to touch it.  I shouldn’t even be here.”
Eve started to back away.  Rotworm, sensing he was losing her, curled around her legs and spoke in the most soothing voice he could manage. “He told Adam, not you.  Besides, there are other benefits to this fruit.  They... uh... contain high levels of Vitamin C.  And they’re great for weight loss!”
“What?  Well, Adam says we’re equal.  If he shouldn’t do it, neither should I.”
“Pssh! If you were equal, why does God always talk to him, and not to you?”  Rotworm nudged her towards the trunk of the tree, and she let him.  “If you eat of this fruit, you’ll already know what God has to tell Adam, so God won’t need to talk to you.  Right?”
Eve held out a hand towards the tree for a moment, then pulled it back.  “That’s true… but then… then I’d know more than Adam.  That’s not being equal, either.”
The smile that formed on Rotworm’s serpentine lips could make a mouse faint at a hundred yards.  “Oh yessss… however will you both be equal?”
Eve lit up suddenly and waved her hand frantically to Rotworm. “Oh, I could give him one!”
“Say, that’s a great idea!  I’m sure he’d appreciate that.  Hmmm... if only you could reach them.”  Silence fell between them.  Eve rubbed at her arm a little.
“Yeah, if only.”
“Ahem.  I said, ‘IF ONLY YOU COULD REACH THEM!’”  With that, Rotworm thumped his foot against the trunk of the tree.  An adorable little yelp was heard from somewhere in the branches.  A moment later, a fruit fell, landing on Rotworm’s head.  He grimaced as Eve picked it up.
“It just… fell.”
“Nnggg... ouch.  Y-yes, fell.  Almost like God wanted you to have it.  You never can tell what the Big Guy really wants, can you?”
“This is perfect!  I’ll bring this to Adam and then we’ll both be equal!”  She started off back down the path but stopped after a few steps.  “How will I convince him to eat it?”
“You could lie… oh well, I suppose you can’t.”  Rotworm looked over the woman, at her full, nubile figure, bathed in the light of the sun, her hair flowing over her pert breasts as the wind caressed her skin.  She was the perfect image of youth and fertility.
“I’m sure you’ll find a way.”
Eve looked down at herself and then nodded to Rotworm, as if for the first time she understood something he said.  She ran off out of sight, the foliage of Eden soon leaving Rotworm alone at the trunk of the tree.
“Mission complete.  Let's get going, Butt-Kisser!” he said and thumped the tree again.  The little lizard fell from the tree.
“Ouch!  What’s the hurry?” he asked.  “And it’s Brown-Noser!”
“Whatever.  We’ve got to get out of these bodies before God decides to dole out punishments.  I don’t want to be in here when he does something crazy, like tear all of its limbs off or something.”  Rotworm hurried away from the tree back the way they had come, his long, thin body winding all around.
“What?  God would never do something like that.  Right?” Brown-Noser asked as he ran alongside.  “I mean, isn’t that a little extreme?”
Rotworm gave him a sideways glance. “Why not.  Have you seen what happened to the platypus?”

Monday, May 11, 2015

First Draft

As most of you already know, I am writing a novel.  To be more precise, I'm writing my first novel.  I've been doing this for about 4 years now (truly, it is a part-time effort. I estimate I've done about one year's worth of actual work).  About two years ago, I finished my rough draft - that is the version of the story which I will not let anyone else read.  It is a skeleton really, something with which to hang the real story.  It was around 60k words.

On Friday, I finished my First Draft (notice the capitalization there?  It's that important).  This is the first version I'm willing to let others read and critique. It is about 90k words. It represents the TRUE start of the iterative editing process.  Now, I've already been getting it critiqued by some other authors a few chapters at a time, about once a month.  It is very helpful and I've learned a lot from doing this (and they are about half way through the entire novel).  But I am impatient.  I know it will be a while before they are done, and I want more feedback now.

So I am on the hunt for readers.  Don't think I'll share this story with just anyone.  I've had short stories stolen before and it hurt.  THIS thing?  I would probably get arrested after they find enough of your body left over from which to extract DNA evidence.  If you know me, and I know you are trustworthy and decent at critiquing, then contact me or leave a message here.  I am very eager to hear some feedback from people who can read more than two chapters a month. :)

At the moment the issues which concern me are thus:

1 - I do not know if this is one book or if I should make it two.  At 90k words, it is at the cusp of what publishers are willing to look at for first-time novelists (at least, this is what I've been told/read).  But splitting it to 2 books means I will need to make each one longer, which might become nothing more than padding.

2 - I have written two endings.  I'm not certain if the one I chose is the best way to end it. There are characters I introduced near the end, one I removed, and an additional epilogue (minus a chapter) in the rewrite. I am afraid I might have some hackneyed tropes in the end that may put people off, but I'm not certain of this.

3 - I am not entirely certain of the genre this piece would fall into.  I have been told to market it towards college-aged readers ("new adult"), late teens ("young adult"), and even religious publications (I don't think so). I've been calling it Urban Fantasy, though Paranormal Fantasy might fit better (then again, it really might not).  One person said it would be "Theological Fantasy" and that does sort of fit.  Other options are generic fiction, literary fiction, generic fantasy, and splitting it into a rom com and an action.  So... if you have any ideas, let me know.  It's not terribly important (that is what the publishers will decide), but it would still be good to get some opinions.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bottle Rocket

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night dear reader!  It has indeed been a few weeks since I posted something here on my blog, and I have had a good reason.  I'm close, very close, to finishing up my current rewrite of my novel.  I just want to get it done.  And after that, I have a few touch-ups I want to make, then it will be sent out for editing by others!!  Well, more editing by others, at least.  Once I am satisfied, I will begin phase 3: researching agents and publishers!

I my time away I ran into another author in about the same boat as me, though a little further along.  She had this piece of advice to give me: write a blog.  Of course, I have one, but she told me that in order to get the RIGHT audience, I should start writing short stories that are related in some way to my novel.  And you know what?  She's right!  So I will soon start posting up a special series of short stories that will be dedicated to promoting my novel.  They will not BE my novel, they will not reveal the PLOT of my novel.  But they will take place in the same WORLD as my novel.  So I hope you are as excited as I am to see what is going to show up!


In other, completely unrelated news, I was able to experience a unique and fascinating act of science today.  In case you don't know, I brew my own beer.  I have been doing it for about... 4 years now?  Maybe 3?  I have a lot to learn, but I'm willing and eager.  Time? That's another matter.

I've been trying to bottle my latest creation, a black lager, or schwarzbier, for about a week now.  And today we had some friends over and I got some help, so finally I was able to bottle it!  However, I needed about 50 clean bottle to put it in (I bottle condition).  Sadly, after scouring my basement, I came up short of de-labeled bottles.  I do not know where they went, to be honest. I never recycle my bottles, and I do not have anything else brewed at the moment.  Well, that's not entirely true. In order to make up the missing score or so, I discovered that I had a cache of beers from my last batch which I had forgotten about.  And this beer?  Well, it is something.

I call it "Russian Yeti."  My brother and I decided to give our beers all gross-sounding or monstrous names. One was Snot Rocket, another Phlim-Phlegm, another Skellington Scum... you get the idea.  Yeti was a witbier that had been fermented with blueberries.  Sadly, it blew its top during primary fermentation several times and took two weeks to stop bubbling (instead of the normal 24 hours). To say the least, it was a very active yeast.  It had a bit of a vodka bite to it as well, as I soaked the blueberries in vodka to sanitize them.
Anyway, the beer tasted fine... until a few weeks back when I brought some over to a friend's house. When he opened it, the entire contents of the bottle instantly converted into a semi-gaseous form... it erupted and sent beer foam a good 3 inches from the top of the bottle.  The next bottle, the same thing.  All of them are like this. I cannot save this beer.  So I decided to use THESE bottles for my lager.

In order to use these bottles, I needed to clean them. In order to do that, I needed to empty them.  So, the first thing I did was put one in the sink, point it away form me, and very carefully pop the top.  Instead of spewing outward into the sink... it shot back along the bottle (the cap stayed put) and sprayed me, and my just-brought-home-from-the-dry-cleaners vest.  My friend had a brilliant idea: put the bottles in a bag and then open them.  He used a piece of paper towel to prevent the bottle opener from tearing the bag, and it worked for the most part.  Beer tried to escape. It was MUCH stronger than before.  However, the bag would just pop up a good half foot before sinking back down.  That is, until the LAST bottle.

He started to open it and it sprayed down like the first one had. It let out quite a bit of pressure this way. But when he started to open it the rest of the way, the cap and opener crimped the plastic bag in such a way as to build a bubble, a bubble that was building up pressure fast.  A second later, the cap POPPED through the plastic bag and struck the ceiling, sending a spray of boozy goodness all over the kitchen and my friend.  It was actually quite glorious.  If only we had filmed it, we could have won a spot on America's Funniest Home Videos.  C'est la vie.

So the lager was bottled and named (Dark Helmet, in honor of the Spaceballs-sounding style name). 50 bottles in all.  But I will always think back fondly when I drink it and remember the time we discovered a new way to make a bottle rocket.