Nothing to announce

Nothing to announce, but when anything happens, I'll be sure to let you know.

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A new review: "as smooth as grandma’s turkey gravy"

There's a new 5-star review up for "Verbosity's Vengeance":

I laughed so hard at this, I spit coffee out my nose.

To understand why this is funny, you'd have to be following me on Twitter. If you're not... well, all the explanation in the world won't help.

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"Why didn't you call her?"

Recently, on a whim, I asked a successful TV writer on Twitter if she'd be willing to read my novel WIP and offer any comments. She kindly agreed, although she said she didn't know when she'd be able to get to it. I gave her my email address and asked her to send me an address that would be good to send the file to.

I could have just gone to her website, located an address, and sent the file. But this is an easy way to leave the ball in her court, and for her to decide if she actually wants to follow through on a spur-of-the-moment thing she agreed to do for a nobody she doesn't know. A successful writer's impulse to help out an aspiring writer is a real one, and it's a generous, admirable one, too. But it's also something that will drown you in extra work if you give in to it too much.

Whether she was serious about accepting my request, or if she was just being polite to some random guy on Twitter, then this is a minimally invasive way to either continue the interaction (if she's truly interested) or to nip it in the bud (if she's not).

The alternative is for me to send her the file without really knowing if she actually wants it or has any time or inclination to do anything with it. Then I'm in a position of either forgetting about it and going on with my life, or sending her that dreaded email two months from now: "So, did you get it? What did you think?" Guilt, irritation, and obligation all around.

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How's the WIP coming?

My WIP first draft is now at 64K. Probably another ~20K to finish the story. Much of it crap that I'll have to delete and replace, but it's a first draft.

I've heard it said that a first draft is just you telling the story to yourself. I must admit, I'd like to finish this, so I can find out what happens.

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October frosts

It's that time of the year when autumn is undeniable. Chill nights, shorter days, pumpkin spice and the wretched scourge of eternally-disgusting candy corn... these are the hallmarks of the season.

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Another year, another renewal

I have once again paid the annual renewal fee to retain ownership of this domain name, tonynoland.com. Things have certainly changed in my life since I was updating this site almost daily. I rarely post anything here now.

So why renew? It's not like there are hordes of people eagerly waiting to scoop up tonynoland.com if I let it lapse.

I guess it's because, against all rational thought processes, I still kinda have hopes of one day taking up writing fiction again. It's never far from my mind, even as it gets farther and farther from my schedule. And my priority list, and my skill set.

Right now, I'm not a writer, not anymore. I'm a guy who used to write, a guy who once wrote a novel. And since it was self-published, it wasn't a "real" novel, not the kind of thing you discuss in decent society. The childish effort of a Dunning-Kruger amateur, best forgotten.

But the novel I'm thinking about NOW, the one where the planet-killing asteroid headed toward Antarctica leads to a cultural reexamination of the nature of God and the ultimate purpose of humanity? THAT novel will be worth reading.

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Ten life lessons that you need RIGHT NOW

This is from the ever-insightful Brain Pickings:
1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.
2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.
3. Be generous. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.
4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?
5. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.
6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit — it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.
9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture — which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands — give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” — a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.
10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior. Unlike that great Rilkean life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis — in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.
For the record, I struggle with all of these, but with #10 especially.

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poem for #3WW: taboo, taut, tattered

Today's words for Three Word Wednesday are: taboo, taut, and tattered.

Everyone slips, though they ought
To learn to tell "taut" from "taught".
Want your image tattered?
Say: "As though spelling mattered!"
It's taboo to write like a bot.

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#3WW: Quick, Raw, Sassy

The three words for today's Three Word Wednesday are: "quick", "raw" and "sassy".  Here is a poem, using them:

"Babe, you are one sassy chick!"
Said the bro at the bar (rather thick).
The femme glanced sidelong,
Then said, "Move along.
I like my boys raw, not quick."

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#FridayFlash: Die, Wizard!

Purple-white fire licked and danced, filling the north wall of the Last Throne Room with death. Dagger-shards of ice gleamed and darted in the freezing air to the south.

Between them, sat the wizard. Stripped of her staff, her seven nightblades, all of her rings of power, and her circlet of warding, stripped of every rune-bedecked magical device, she should have looked weak, frightened, and helpless. With instant, burning death facing her, and with slow, agonizing death behind her, she should have at least looked tense. Instead, she simply sat naked on the wooden stool and looked calm. Despite her split lip and broken fingers, despite the iron shackles around her ankles and wrists, she looked... calm.

Her serenity made the Dread Lord pause before he began the torture. She had surprised him with the ferocity of her attack and he had barely beaten her. Straining every magical sense, he leaned closer to the wizard. His eyes searched for any trace of the magical runes wizards used to store energy, but saw none. He looked harder, considering her artifact-weapons, now safely locked in one of the Council's war chests, carved with as many warding runes as the ancient weaponmasters could fit on the olivewood surface. A lot had changed in the world during the thousand years he'd been held in the Council's prison. Although there was much he had yet to understand about this new age, some things did not, and would never, change. He inspected her minutely, but saw nothing.

Although humans now had strange machines and they no longer feared their gods, they remained weak and stupid, eager to follow a fearsome leader. Although the Council was intact and powerful, its members remained arrogant and overconfident. And, although this wizard, woman though she was, had shown herself to be clever and resourceful, the laws of magic remained immutable. Her Power was as bound to physical manifestations of summoning as all Power had always been bound. Without a rune to store, shape, and guide the Power, it could not be bent by any will, no matter how strong. The laws of magic did not allow a user to simply summon Power without first carving the appropriate runes.

She held nothing, she wore nothing. He had seen to that after the battle. Her several tattoos and scars, he ignored. Runes of Power could not be carved into living flesh. He inhaled, searching for the scent of metal, wood, gold, or gemstones, anything that could have been carved with a rune. The more runes that could be carved onto an object, the greater the Power it could hold and guide. In the ancient days, the most skilled magecrafters could carve a rune no larger than a pea, putting dozens onto a ring, hundreds onto a blade, and thousands onto a staff. But she held... nothing. He leaned in closer, yet still, he sensed nothing. Was the wizard's mien, then, merely a bluff, an attempt to prolong her life?

"Two words," the wizard whispered.

The Dread Lord froze. Though he had defeated her, taken her weapons and stripped her bare, she was a wizard sent by the Council to return him to his cell, and therefore not to be taken lightly.

Seconds passed, his senses straining, searching. He saw nothing, smelled nothing.

"Two words," she repeated, so softly that he could barely hear her over the rushing of the fire and the moaning of the ice.

After another long, agonizing moment, when she said nothing further, the Dread Lord replied, "No words will save you, wizard. You have no way to channel whatever Power you would summon with them." His voice was harsh from a thousand years of disuse, his suspicions tearing at him.

She looked up, raising her eyes from the floor to lock her strange, calm gaze onto his.

"Two words that you should learn, Dread Lord," she said, "if you are to live in this age of humanity."

"Oh? And what Powerless words would you teach me before I kill you, wizard?"

"The words are these: 'laser' and 'microengraving'."

And from her eyes, the stored Power of a thousand thousand runes tore through the space between
them, caving in the breastplate of the Dread Lord's stolen Armor of Night. Between one heartbeat and the next, fingernail shards of the darkmetal smashed back through his sternum and through the armored back plate like a handful of gravel thrown through a windowpane. His huge frame lifted off the ground more than a hand-span with the force of the impact. When he landed, blood fountained front and back from the cabbage-sized hole where his chest had been. An instant later, his stiffened legs gave way. He was dead before he hit the floor.


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Coming clean

This morning, I got up at 5:15 (as I do several days each week) and ran 4 miles through quiet, dark, pre-dawn neighborhoods. My pace was something over 11 minutes per mile, a time which would be pathetic for a gung-ho, competitive runner. For an overweight 46-year-old guy who otherwise leads a pretty sedentary life, it's still kinda lousy. Still, I ran it. No walking, no stopping to chat with other early birds or to pet their dogs.

I ran.

Despite knowing that the results would be nothing to win any awards or accolades, I ran. I ran until my knees crackled and my feet complained and my thighs ached, and then I kept running until my knees stopped crackling, my feet stopped complaining and my thighs... didn't ache quite so much anymore.

I sweated and stank. I gasped and plodded. I looked directly at the right hand turn which would lop a mile off my course, and I gave it a side-eye as I went past it and continued straight, up that one fucking hill that always kills me.

I ran.

So now let's talk about this novel I'm working on. I've been feeling for some time that my situation with this WIP is much like how I feel at 5:22 am. I silenced the alarm, got out of bed, dressed in the dark, and am sitting in a chair in my living room, ready to begin... but waiting.

Wearing my high-tech, odd-feeling, brightly colored running shirt is on my torso, wearing the extra layers suited to that morning's heat (or rain or cold or snow or...), wearing the surprisingly expensive running shoes, wearing my phone in a special holder strapped to my arm, wearing the earbuds so I can listen to the commands and reports of my preferred running app (and whatever audiobook I'm currently in the middle of), wearing an expression of mixed anticipation... I pause.

The run will hurt. The run will then stop hurting. I'll feel better when I've done it. I just need to begin.

Then I take a breath, step outside, and begin.

My WIP is with me now, the marked-up third draft, in a three-ring binder, waiting. It's an ugly, misshapen thing. The work yet to be done is daunting, to say the least. And when I'm done, what will I have? Something to win an award? Or something still kinda lousy?

I'll feel better when I've done it.

I'll feel better when I've done it.

I'll feel better when I've done it.

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"Depth and dimensionality" - a new review of Verbosity's Vengeance

In this new 5-star review of "Verbosity's Vengeance", my book is described as "a comic book wrapped in novel form". This is an insightful take, since I've had publishers suggest that my novel would make a great comic book or graphic novel. Maybe I should try describing it as the gripping novelization of a comic book/graphic novel/screenplay that exists only in my head?

From the review:
It [Verbosity's Vengeance] has the fast pace of a comic, the vivid action sequences, and the larger than life challenges and heroism. But, by having it in novel form, all of the characters and events unfold with far greater depth and dimensionality. Even the struggles of a burgeoning super hero class are illustrated by the mayor of Lexicon City not just having to have a specific super hero liaison on his staff, but in the difficulty of keeping the position staff. It is also a lens through which we can observe so some of the "little things" that super heroes would have to do in order to maintain their air of mystery, and shedding some light on the Pandora's Box which is opened when someone decides to take on a secret identity, and the many layers of secrecy that are required.
Did I mention that the book is only $0.99? At least for now? Get it cheap, while you can!


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Ideas that won't leave you alone

I've got an idea niggling in the back of my mind. It's not complete enough to even call it a scenario - more like a set-up that could be fleshed out into a scenario. No characters, no plot, just a string of events.

Who's the lead? What's the objective? What's the conflict? What's the knockout?

No idea. Maybe I should write it down and find out.

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Making mistakes in public

If you tweet something clever that gets picked up and retweeted by an account with 500,000+ followers, you may rest assured that it will contain 1) a spelling error, or 2) a mistake in your math.

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