Writing Prompt: Hideout

In the box.  I have to stay in the box until Dad finds me.

There are lots of noises downstairs.  Doors slamming, people talking.  Loud, squawky radios like the ones policemen carry.  Dad’s yelling again.

I wish I had been in the balloon.  I wish I could have floated far away.  Away from the cameras, away from the shows.  Away from Dad.  Well, not really.  Not away from Nice Dad or Science Dad, but away from Mean Dad.  Maybe Mean Dad will float away someday and leave real Dad behind.

They’re calling my name again, but I have to be quiet.  I have to hide.  “Stay in the box until I open it, Falcon.  Do you understand?  It’s important, because it’s for the show.”  I remember nodding, but now I don’t want to stay in the box.  I want to fly away.  It’s dark, and I hear lots of strange voices, and it’s noisy outside, and I’m hungry, and I’m scared.  And I don’t feel good.

Please, Dad, find me soon.

From the Fringes of the Brotherhood

I stand behind dozens of firefighters in their dress blues; I wear an embroidered polo with my name and the Federal Heights Fire Department logo.  His casket bears his name: Joseph Eugene Grein.

I am not a firefighter, but I knew the firefighter they are honoring this day.  I didn’t know him well, mind you, just as a work acquaintance.  But I know he would have helped me in an emergency, and for that, I will always be grateful.

I am honored that I am allowed to stand with his peers and say goodbye from the fringes of the brotherhood.

Joe Grein's Funeral Ceremony

MileHiCon 41

You asked for it, you got it:  My MileHiCon 41 panel schedule!

(Okay, so no one asked for it, but here it is anyway!)

Hyatt Regency — DTC
Saturday, October 24

10:00 AM, Mesa Verde Room A: “GM 101 – A Thief, A Mage, and a Paladin Walk Into the Tavern” — I’m moderating this panel about how a GM can make the difference between a good role-playing campaign and a tortuous one.  Featuring Ephemeris game designer J. Alan Erwine and three other experienced GMs.

12:00 PM, Wind River B: “Disabled Fen and Con Challenges” — Disabled people are SF fans, too!  I expect this to be a frank discussion about what works and what doesn’t for disabled individuals in a convention setting.

2:00 PM, location TBD: “Playing with Stace Johnson” — This probably won’t be as pornographic as it sounds; it’s more likely to be me sitting at a table somewhere armed with one of my favorite games, looking for someone to game with for an hour.  (Unfortunately, it looks like Brandon Sanderson has already claimed Magic: The Gathering.  I’ll have to think of something else.)

4:00 PM, Grand Mesa B-C Stage: “SciFi Theatre” — I don’t know what this is about yet, though I have a guess that it involves either improv or one-act plays.  Either way, Connie Willis is one of the other scheduled participants, so I’m excited.

Sunday, October 25

12:00 PM, Wind River A: “It’s Almost 2010: What is Your Computer Up To?” — I get to be on another tech panel this year, with Andrew Burt, David Dvorkin (I don’t think it’s Daniel), Drupal Master John Fiala, and the mysterious L. Rowe (could be any number of people!)

If you’re coming to MileHiCon, I hope to see you there.  If you’re not, why the hell not?!

To Nano, or Not To Nano

It’s halfway through October, with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a.k.a. November, fast approaching.  My blog has grown stagnant; I wrote the last meaningful post more than eight months ago.  I have become increasingly frustrated with my lack of published fiction, which is due in large part to me not submitting much for publication; you can’t win if you don’t play.

I have never written a novel.  The concept of writing 50,000 words as part of a single story frightens and overwhelms me.  I have a lengthy short story that should probably be expanded into a novel, and I have received a lot of encouragement from people who have read it to do just that.  I know several people who have successfully written full novels during NaNoWriMo, and some of them are just as busy as I am, so I really don’t have much of an excuse.

My wife is also considering participating in NaNoWriMo this year.  She has a great idea for her novel, helped along by a writing retreat she attended over the summer.  Today, a co-worker told me he is going to try to write a novel next month.  This is good, because I think it would be easier to stay on track if I’m sharing goals with someone both at home and at work.  I know there is plenty of support and comaraderie in the online community, but it’s not the same as physically being in the presence of someone doing the same thing I am doing.  (This is why the NaNo community has so many writing get-togethers, I think.)

Participating in NaNoWriMo would require some significant changes in my life.  I would need to add significant structure to my day, something that needs to be done anyway.  I would need to power through the inertia that keeps me from writing.  I would need to compartmentalize the project to keep from being overwhelmed (a big challenge for me.)  I think the thing that frightens me the most (and hence, the thing from which I can learn the most) is that I would need to turn off my inner editor and just write.  When I’m writing fiction, I have a tendency to rewrite as I go, rather than letting the words flow and revising them later.  On a tight schedule where I would need to average nearly 1,700 words per day, I would not have the luxury of editing as I go.  In the process, maybe I would learn that 50,000 words is not as daunting as it sounds.

If I’m not careful, I might talk myself into this.

Nuclear Anxiety

As Ahmadinejad pulls his nuclear saber another inch from its scabbard, my Cold War anxieties return.  My dreams become a series of nuclear scenarios.  A nuke hits downtown Denver, the stem of the mushroom expanding to encompass my house.  A failed attack results in an Iranian Saegheh aircraft exploding on 16th street during Christmas season.

None of this is reasonable; if (when?) Iran is ready to use nukes, Denver is not a likely target, and I don’t think there’s any way a Saegheh fighter jet could make it to middle America.

But then, saber-rattling isn’t intended to produce rational results.