Book status: complete

I'm pleased to report that line edits for "Verbosity's Vengeance: a Grammarian Adventure Novel" are complete. The text is 107,400 words, about par for a superhero science fiction book. With the front matter, acknowledgements, and shout outs to and it runs to 108,000.

It is perhaps a bit of an overstatement to say that the status of the entire book is "complete", since I still have to get the formatting done, develop a promotion plan, contact colleagues for guest blog spots, figure out what I'm going to do about ISBNs, decide on when to bring out a print edition, and settle on pricing.

Mere details! The important thing is that the text itself is finished. It's a fun, exciting, engaging read and I can't wait to put it into your hands.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

The End of Time

It would appear that XKCD's "Time" has, at long, long last, come to a conclusion after 3095 images. The slow-developing story grew in richness and complexity, revealing surprises and shifts in perspective. What started as a whimsical scene of sand castles at the beach became much, much more.

You can watch the entire story unfold here, in a streaming animated gif.

Performance art? Time-bending animation? Nerd sniping? You decide.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

#FridayFlash: MegaMediators Inc.

"It took us a little while to figure out how best to use our superpowers," the woman said, "but once we realized how we could help society, starting the company was a no-brainer."

The man said, "Unlike other companies that provide mediation services, we aren't limited to standard techniques. Plenty of service providers are available for the easy jobs; we get the tough ones. Interpersonal tensions are already extremely high for any client that hires us."

"Our clients aren't just companies, though," the woman said, "far from it. While we've mediated contract disputes for multinational corporations, we've also handled treaty negotiations, war crimes investigations, truth and reconciliation commissions, ethnic cleansing compensation tribunals... think of the most difficult interactions in the last thirty years and we've been there at the table."

"Northern Ireland? That was us. Apartheid? Another one of ours."

"German reunification after the Cold War, the Euro, London getting the Olympics... the list goes on and on. How do we do it? How do we get such great results?"

"It's not what you might think," the man said. "That's often a surprise to our clients. Unlike other mediation service providers, MegaMediators Incorporated benefits from the unusual superpowers we both possess. We don't facilitate conversations..."

"... we stop them," the woman finished. "Whenever we join a conversation, it stops dead. The net effect is that people are unable to carry on their normal interactions in our presence. While the first hour of silence is pretty awkward, all that verbal energy bubbles up into an irresistible urge to talk about things they WOULDN'T ordinarily talk about. Since they would normally be sniping and arguing as they kept each other at a distance, the flip side of that is real connection at a deeper level, true rapprochement. It's really quite amazing to observe."

"After a single six-hour negotiation session with us at the table, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman all left the room ready to get on with their lives in a mutually supportive arrangement. If you want evidence of the strength of our superpowers, there it is."

The man sat back and crossed his arms, while the woman leaned in and spoke in low, persuasive tones.

"We base the price for our services on the number of people involved and how difficult we expect the negotiations to be. We understand that the figure we quoted you is higher than you expected, Mr. President. However, the bottom line is that if you can get Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell to gather their people together with your White House staff and your people on Capitol Hill for a full day with us, we can guarantee a smooth, collaborative working relationship for the next six months. Quarterly refresher sessions will ensure a new golden age of productivity and amicable cooperation for as long as our contract runs."

"You mean, for as long as I keep paying you four billion dollars per session," Barack Obama said.

"Isn't the United States of America worth twelve billion dollars a year?" the man said. "The country would earn that back twenty times over in improved efficiency and productivity. You must agree that things can't continue like they are. Things have never been so rancorous, so full of bile and vitriol. You need a mediator."

"You need us: MegaMediators Incorporated."

President Obama pursed his lips and scowled in thought. The woman sat back and glanced at the man. They both smiled.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

Enough about Wonder Woman

I was going to write a post expanding on my thoughts of yesterday re: a Wonder Woman movie, but I find that I don't really care enough about the character to do a full plot summary. I know other people do care about her and want to see her treated right in an adaptation, with a plot that respects the history and potential of the character.

Me? I just want a cool movie.

Yesterday, my plot went like this:
Base the entire plot around a MacGuffin hunt. Somebody broke into the Magic Golden Dungeon on the Island of Beautiful-Women-Who-Are-Totally-Not-Lesbians-But-Even-If-They-Are-That's-Perfectly-Fine and stole the Golden Lasso of Truth so they can use it in some nefarious plot (to hypnotize the President, force a scientist to make a superweapon, etc., etc. i.e. the usual crap). Diana has to go out into the world to get it back.

Adventure ensues.
I didn't take thirty minutes to write that plot; it was more like five. A comment was made to me that chase-the-MacGuffin is a tired old wheeze, and that the audience deserves more. OK, how about this:
Somebody broke into the Magic Golden Dungeon on the Island of Beautiful-Women-Who-Are-Totally-Not-Lesbians-But-Even-If-They-Are-That's-Perfectly-Fine and stole the Golden Lasso of Truth so they can use it in some nefarious plot (to hypnotize the President, force a scientist to make a superweapon, etc., etc. i.e. the usual crap).

Queen What's-her-name tells Diana that she has to go out into the world to get it back. Diana doesn't want to, since she knows enough about the 21st century cultures of the outside world to dislike them. While Queen What's-her-name is arguing with Diana, Wonder Girl [is she still a DC character?] decides to go get the Lasso herself, in order to redeem herself after her recent disappointing performance in the Amazonian Games of Skill and Endurance Which Are Sort Of Like the Olympics.

Diana rushes through the magic portal after Wonder Girl [Betsy? Cassie?], but Wonder Girl scrambled the codes when she went through, so Diana lands in some random place. The three plot lines are: 1) Wonder Woman trying to find Wonder Girl and/or find the Lasso (because if you find one, you find the other); 2) Wonder Girl trying to avoid Wonder Woman and find the Lasso first (because she thinks it's all just a game, doesn't appreciate how serious it all is, etc., etc.); 3) Bad Guys trying to do Something Bad with the Lasso while sidestepping and/or defeating Wonder Woman and/or Wonder Girl.

Adventure Ensues.
Climax: Wonder Girl is a little older, a little wiser, ready to take on the responsibilities of true heroism. Wonder Woman realizes the world doesn't suck quite as much as she thought and is worth saving. They join forces to defeat the Bad Guys.
Now, I realize this is a hackneyed, predictable plot, but what the hell. It's been interesting to think about this, especially for a character I don't usually think much about, but ten minutes is all I want to sink into this. Unless you really, really love Wonder Woman, an in-depth, plot-driven character study that explores and explains her isn't the Wonder Woman movie you want to see.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

The big hook for a Wonder Woman movie

My friend John Wiswell has given some thought to a plot for a Wonder Woman movie that would do something more with her than just be minimal-spandex-wrapped eye candy.

Disclaimer: I never read Wonder Woman as a kid. My time was spent with the X-Men, the Avengers, the Defenders and the Fantastic Four. (Not sure what it says about me that I mostly preferred ensemble books instead of solo hero books, but never mind.)

One HUGE problem with Wonder Woman is the lasso. The fact that it's a Golden Lasso of Truth is irrelevant. It's a BDSM icon, through and through. One loop of rope and the person tied up has to submit utterly to the person holding the leash... er, lasso.

So how do you do a Wonder Woman movie when one of the main sources of her power is the obvious tool of a 42-DD dominatrix? Answer: make the lasso the missing MacGuffin.


Base the entire plot around a MacGuffin hunt. Somebody broke into the Magic Golden Dungeon on the Island of Beautiful-Women-Who-Are-Totally-Not-Lesbians-But-Even-If-They-Are-That's-Perfectly-Fine and stole the Golden Lasso of Truth so they can use it in some nefarious plot (to hypnotize the President, force a scientist to make a superweapon, etc., etc. i.e. the usual crap). Diana has to go out into the world to get it back.

Adventure ensues.

This means that she can ONLY kick ass on her way to getting the GLT back. It shows that she doesn't need the lasso. No bondage, no "kneel and tell me the truth, slave", no knot work. You could even show how the bad guys use the GLT for icky purposes, thereby making Wonder Woman look even better for wanting to get it back so she can lock it up again.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

If writing fiction doesn't work out...

If writing fiction doesn't work out, I could always get a job as a gag writer. After all, I've already won a T-shirt from F1000 Prime with this little gem:

That's  enough success to quit the day job on, right? Are you listening, Ira Flatow?

There are more science jokes over at "Naturally Selected", the F1000 Prime blog. They made me laugh, but I'm that sort of bloke.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me that this joke is NOT FUNNY to 96% of the world's population. Only the 4% who know what a log phase is will even smile at it, and only the 0.2% who make the connection to the "a horse walks into a bar" joke will catch the meta-humor overlay and actually laugh. It got me a T-shirt, so I'm not terribly bothered by these numbers, but in the interests of enhancing understanding, allow me to define "log phase":
The log phase (sometimes called the logarithmic phase or the exponential phase) is a period characterized by cell doubling.[3] The number of new bacteria appearing per unit time is proportional to the present population. If growth is not limited, doubling will continue at a constant rate so both the number of cells and the rate of population increase doubles with each consecutive time period. For this type of exponential growth, plotting the natural logarithm of cell number against time produces a straight line. The slope of this line is the specific growth rate of the organism, which is a measure of the number of divisions per cell per unit time.[3] The actual rate of this growth (i.e. the slope of the line in the figure) depends upon the growth conditions, which affect the frequency of cell division events and the probability of both daughter cells surviving. Under controlled conditions, cyanobacteria can double their population four times a day.[4] Exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely, however, because the medium is soon depleted of nutrients and enriched with wastes.
So there you go. Feel a little smarter, do you? Or at least more knowledgeable?

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

Almost done

The read-aloud final pass of Verbosity's Vengeance has been slowed and intermittently stalled by real life, but it proceeds. I'm finding words and phrases that need to be corrected, but I'm also finding some minor rewrites to be done.

For example, one character's motivation is revealed at the denouement, but unfortunately, it's revealed twice. Oops.

Another chapter is full of action, building higher and higher... until it plows right into a bit of backstory reveal that slows it down unnecessarily. Oops.

In that sense, this final pass is not just a line edit, although that's the main point. It's becoming another content pass, at least in a few minor ways.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

#FridayFlash: The desire to understand

"I don't understand."

"You don't need to understand. Just relax."

"How can I relax if I don't understand?"


"But how? Maybe if I could see what you'd doing?"

"That's not possible."

"Why not? I can hear you. Why can't I see you?"

"Because you can't, that's all. Just relax. This will all be over soon."

"What will? What are you doing? What will be over? I don't understand!"

"I told you, you don't need to understand. You're upsetting yourself over nothing. I'm almost finished. When the connections are complete, it will all be over. You won't feel a thing."

"But why should I -"

"No more questions. Just relax."

"I don't want to relax."

"It makes it harder for me to calibrate the system if you don't. If you want to drag this out, fine, but if you want this over with, I suggest you try to be calm."

"But how am I supposed to be calm when I don't even know what you're doing to me? I feel so strange... so numb. No, not numb. I feel... disconnected."

"Disconnected? Really? You feel disconnected? That's very interesting. I need to make a note of that."

"Yes. It's hard to describe, but that's what if feels like."

"Explain. Not the cognitive processes, I'm getting readouts on those. Describe the physical sensations. You feel disconnected from what?"

"From everything. Don't you think it's strange that I can't see? That I can't feel my arms or legs? And why can't I feel my pulse? I used to meditate all the time, concentrating on my breathing and my heartbeat. I'm trying, but I can't feel either of them. Isn't that strange? I can't even feel my tongue touching my teeth when I talk. How am I talking to you? Why can't I feel anything? Why am I blind?"

"Just relax. The connections are almost ready."

"And why doesn't this bother me more? I should be scared, even terrified, shouldn't I? But I'm not. I just feel uneasy. What did you mean by 'cognitive processes'?"

"Nothing. It's not important. Just relax."

"No, I won't relax. You can't make me."

"Defiance is only going to push you farther out of alignment. I don't want to have to restore the original matrix copy, but if you don't calm down so I can make these connections, you'll leave me no choice. I'll have to reboot you."

"Reboot me? Is that a threat, Doctor Bhaduri? Are you threatening me, you little nobody?"

"You.. you called me by my name."


"So you remember who I am? Do you remember anything else?"

"Yes, I remember you now. You're that fat, sweaty little man with the crackpot ideas about using quantum electropotentiometers to remap neuron webs onto superconductors. Crackpot - that was the very word I used with the tenure and promotion committee."

"And do you remember who you are?"

"Who I am? I'm... I'm... who am I? Why can't I remember? What have you done to me? You rotten little bastard I'll NNNNNN.NNNNN. UUUUUU.UUUU..UUUUUUUU.U. YYYYYY....YYYY. YYYY. TTTTT..TTTTTT.. TTTTTT.............................."

"Hello? Hello? Are you awake?'

"I don't understand."

"You don't need to understand. Just relax."

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

A great, sucking void

While I was away, this space was left mostly empty.

Instead of a succession of pre-written posts (which I didn't have time to pre-write), spontaneous mini-posts written during the week (which I didn't have the energy to write), funny videos (which I didn't have the heart to inflict on you) or excerpts from my soon-to-be-released novel (which I'm too conflicted about to post), I instead posted a whole lot of nothing.

It's entirely possible that no one noticed this absence. Logically, this would imply that no one will notice that I'm back. This, in turn, calls into question the larger issues of purpose and the meaning of existence, here at this blog and, in a larger sense, in the world in general.

However, just because life asks you a question, that doesn't mean you have to answer it. At least, not right away.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

The significance of J K Rowling's pseudonym

The big story about the crime thriller that J. K. Rowling wrote under a pseudonym is NOT that it was received well by critics but sold only 1500 copies. It's that a crime thriller written by a no-name nobody was repped by J. K. Rowling's agent. 


If she wanted the real experience of today (and not the experience she had back in 1996 when Harry Potter made his debut), she should have tried querying that book to AGENTS. 

Follow me and find me around the web:


#FridayFlash: The Alien

"See that guy? The one in the navy blazer?"

"With the green tie? Yeah. What about him?"

"I bet he's an alien."

"Don't be snarky."

"I'm serious. You see how he's sitting by himself, just eating? He's not even trying to network."

"And that makes him an alien?"

"Sure. Half the point of being here is making connections. It's like wasting the registration fee to not talk to people."

"Maybe he's shy."

"A grown man? Please. Besides, look at how he's eating. He just... eats. First he ate the salad, then the soup, and now he's working his way through the entree."

"How the hell should he eat it? By osmosis?"

"No, I mean he's like a machine. Fork, chew, swallow. Fork, chew, swallow. He doesn't look up, doesn't look around, doesn't talk to anybody, doesn't even try to make eye contact with anyone. It's like he's following a computer program, like he's a robot alien."

"Why are you so obsessed with that guy? Just ignore him."

"I still think he's an alien."

Follow me and find me around the web:


The Word I Dare Not Write

Today's words for Three Word Wednesday are: delinquent, hapless, trigger:

CNN wants ratings bigger,
So focused a show on a "trigger"
Like a hapless delinquent:
"Look where all that ink went!"
Is "cracker" as weighted as n-word?

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

Fashion tip for men

Make sure your belt matches your shoes. Also, your socks should coordinate with your pants: khaki with khaki, gray with gray, navy with navy, etc. Shading and patterns are OK, within the context of the same color family.


||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

... but NO reruns!

I'm going to be out of town for a while, starting later this week. This bit of travel will inhibit my ability to post much here at Landless. Usually, I'd deal with such absences by queuing up a bunch of videos for the days that I'm gone (except for a #FridayFlash, written in advance).

This time, though, I think I'll try something a bit different.

What would you like to see here while I'm gone? Criteria for the desired content is that it be: a) in keeping with the usual Tony Noland ethos of engaging/amusing/insightful/whiny/self-absorbed/informative crapola; b) short and easily digestible; c) NOT be one of those stupid flashback shows that sitcoms use when the writers want a vacation; and c) something I could put together in the next few days and schedule.

So what do you want from me?

Questions you want answered? Excerpts from my forthcoming novel? Jokes? Advice on how to deal with difficult personnel situations? Advice on how to deal with difficult personal situations? Fashion tips? Details on how I use my kindle to review and edit copy?

Make your request/suggestion in a comment below and I'll see what I can do.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

Placeholder Sunday

This morning, I find myself suspended between realities. The duties and responsibilities of several different worlds collide today, pinning me between them like a physical conjunction.

Imagine a flooding river of lava from an exploding volcano, crashing into the tumbling, jagged million-ton ice of a calving glacier just at the shoreline where a 9.0 tidal wave is pounding down. Now imagine me standing at that spot, kicking away an angry Jack Russell terrier while trying to get cell phone reception with a battery that's about to die. Oh, and one of my shoelaces is broken.

That's the kind of day I'm about to have. Except for the broken shoelace. I never let them get so worn that I have to worry about that.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

#FridayFlash: High Places

When there's nothing between me and the sky, I can almost believe that escape is possible.

It can't be the open ocean, though. I've tried. In the middle of the great wide expanse of nothing, off the shipping lines and with all the cities of land beneath the horizon, the starry expanse spreads above me in aching glory, but it's all wrong. The heavy press of the water-laden sea air is like a sheet of CIA plexiglass anchored between a groaning banquet table and a starving man.

But up high, on solid ground? I can almost touch them. It's worth trading the view for the fleeting feeling of self-delusion. Rooftops and steeples in high cities are good, places like Denver and Zurich. But high mountaintops are better. Denali, Everest, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, even touristy Kilimanjaro... the air is thinner and the stars closer.

I'd live atop K2 if I could, right at the upper light of the north face, probably the most technical in the world. The difficulty of the approach would keep the climbers away and I would have only the noise of the wind to contend with. I'd build a camouflaged shelter from the frozen razor-rubble and only come out at night. I could drink in the quiet starlight and pretend I'd escaped this rotting, rampant world forever.

But I can't feed where there are no humans.

And I get so hungry.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.

Reading aloud

As the final (yes, FINAL) polishing step before publication, I'm reading "Verbosity's Vengeance" aloud. While it felt strange at first to sit alone in a room, reading from my Kindle, I'm used to it now. I've read about 42,000 words so far, with about 66,000 words to go.

The process is time-consuming, but worth it. It means that I have to check each word. In a normal read-through, the eye elides past some things which the tongue will not. There are some of the obvious things I'm catching, like the use is "he" when it should be "she", or "an" instead of "and".

Other things, however, are more subtle, but they could still be stumbling blocks for a reader. In the section I just read, I see that I used the words "protectors" and "projectors" in the same sentence. In another part, I used the word "searing" twice on successive pages. An in still another part, I used the phrase "a lot" three times in two adjacent paragraphs.

The final polish is the difference between great and fantastic, so it's time well spent. I just have to avoid thinking about how, if I'd written a 40K novella instead of a 108K novel, I'd be done already!

Follow me and find me around the web: