4 Aug
          I'm back to work--sort of. I showed up for work this week only to find out that everyone else was on leave. Being at work all by yourself is almost as good as being on holiday, except you still have to get up early. (And the military frowns on you hanging out at your desk in your underwear.) 
          Pen's leaving tonight to visit Chantel for a few days, so I'm single until Sunday night. Well, I'm single but I can't date. Sort of like the Pope. (Although I doubt he's going to go to the water park, but hey, you never know.)
          I finished the chapter I was working on--the one that was giving me such a hard time. Now all I have left to write is the climax and the book is finished, which should only take me a week, tops, but will probably take longer just because. 

9 Aug
          You know what's wrong with this world? There are just too many people in it that have the right to tell me what to do. Of course I've added to that number considerably by joining the military, but still. And the truth is even though I can (and do) safely ignore at least eighty percent of them, there's just no avoiding the rest--and they're usually the ones that are the most annoying. 
          To make matters worse, often they're not just people but entire institutions--something a well placed 50 calibre round won't fix. I mean the IRS alone would require several crates of ammo, and I'd probably get terminal tennis elbow from cocking the bolt before I'd make a sizeable enough dent in that organization. 
          Being filthy stinking rich would solve the problem, but filthy stinking rich people are the ones that make all the rules in the first place, and half those rules are only there to ensure that the rest of us don't become filthy stinking rich.

10 Aug
          I hardly ever remember my dreams, but these last three nights my dreams have been, well, not nightmares, but disturbing. Mostly stuff about how I'll never succeed in life, or never realise any of my dreams. What's with that? Maybe my subconscious is on a reality programming kick.
          Most peoples' dreams allow them some sort of escape from reality, and at least my usual not dreaming was a break of sorts. If this keeps up I won't be able to distinguish my dreams from real life, which is cool when real life becomes dreamlike, but sucks when dreams become mundane.

11 Aug
           I would like to scream now. I'd love to just stand up at my desk and roar my frustration at the world. I'd love to kick over a couple of filing cabinets, throw some chairs around, toss a table or two through a window, and punch a few holes in the wall. Yes, I know the walls are made of brick, but I think I could manage. I'd love to grab some of the assholes around here and just pummel them into the ground. 
          What I'd really love to do, though, is just go lay on a beach somewhere for the day, do some swimming, go for a nice run along the coast, maybe bring my laptop and do some writing later, have a nice dinner, a motorcycle ride, and then take Pen out dancing tonight.
          You'd think given the choice of options A or B, the PTB would arrange for the later, but nooooo.
          It's amazing how the tranquility of three weeks holidays can be completely undone by one afternoon of work.

12 Aug
          Death by overwork. The Japanese have a word for it: Karoshi. It sounds a might better than stress. More like some exotic disease or netherworld demon.
          "How'd the man die?"
          "Karoshi."
          "Ooooohhhh!"

As opposed to:

          "How'd the man die?"
          "Stress."
         "Figures, the fat bastard."

          Not that I'm likely to die of stress at the office.
          Although my coworkers could suffer from collateral damage.

13 Aug
          An excerpt from the current W.I.P:

          It was a good three months now since I'd last slept, and I have to admit I rather missed it. There's something to be said for passing away a third of your life completely oblivious to what's going on around you. I think it's the French that call sleep "the little death", or maybe that's what they call an orgasm. Let's face it the French can be pretty weird. Anyway, that's what sleep had always been for me. Um, death, not an orgasm.
          I never remembered my dreams. I'm sure I had them, but I never remembered them. So sleep for me had basically been a period of non-existence. Although that's not exactly true either, because there had always still been a sensation of awareness, of self.
          And now apparently I'd never sleep again. Not the little death, nor the big one. You know, no matter how you say that it still sounds like you're talking about an orgasm. 

And you wonder why I haven't been published yet.

Oh yeah, a word of advice: Never eat an entire 454 gram bag of black licorice in one sitting, and follow it with a large bag of nacho cheese doritos--at least not without something to wash it down.

14 Aug
          I went for a long walk today. I don't usually walk, I jog, but lately I've been hurting. Little aches and pains in the muscles and joints that aren't going away because I'm not smart enough to lay off. And I'm old. So today I walked. 
          There's a nice paved path that runs through the forest on the base which was ideal--except for the running trails that split off every so often, tempting me.
   "Come on, just a little jog. A nice little jaunt into the unknown woods is just what you need. Who knows, you might just run across a deer, or a knight on a quest, or a troll."
          You never know. It could happen.
          But I was good. I stayed on the path and walked. This time. Give it a week though, and those trolls are toast.

15 Aug
          Remember that trail I walked last night? Well I ran it this morning. Surprisingly enough it only took under half the time. I didn't meander off onto one of the dirt trails into the forest, however. One of my co-workers told me this morning that he broke his leg on one of them. 
          So now it's a must-do.
          I also realised that ever since I finished my holidays the weather here has been lousy. In an effort to be fair to those members of the squadron who took leave for the last two weeks of August, I offered to stay home for the rest of the month. Oddly enough, the Sgt said no. 
          Some people just have no consideration for others.

          I finally queried Baen about Darkside, since they'd had it since July of last year. This is the response:

Dear Author,

Thank you for showing us your novel, Darkside.  Unfortunately it does not seem right for us. 

[Escape from form letter]

          We probably messed up on sending you a rejection letter because several readers liked your story. Unfortunately the Senior Editor said "same old, same old" so, no sale. Here are some specific comments from a reader who didn't like it, for your future writing efforts. 
          "I managed to get about halfway through this before I gave up. The author has some interesting ideas, but I found myself not caring for the characters, who seemed be mainly caricatures, or stereotypes. There are also a plethora of homonym errors (a real bugaboo of mine), including "a flair of her skirts" instead of "a flare of her skirts".
          It would almost seem, given the number of errors, both grammatical and typographical, that the writer did not have access to a word processor; or if he did, that he turned off the highlighting features in it.
          The story is told from the point of view of the main character talking into a tape recorder, which reminded me uncomfortable of old film noir voiceovers. The type, where in, no matter what happens, the hero is going to survive. And yet, because the character was bland and uninspiring, and because I knew he was going to survive, there didn't seem to be much of a need to read the story."
          I disagreed, and quite liked your characters, and the general idea and setting. The fairyland stuff was probably what the Senior Editor disliked, you might consider something more original. You might also try marketing it, as is, to a publisher who does more horror fantasy. In either case good luck.

[Return to form letter]

While due to the volume of submissions and the press of business it is impossible for us comment in greater depth, please do not take this rejection as being necessarily a reflection on your work; we can accept fewer than one percent of the manuscripts submitted to us.

Best of luck in another market.

 Sincerely,

The Editors

Baen Books

I have no idea how to feel about that, but at least I know they actually read it this time, and the feedback is nice.

Of course, I'm still depressed.

17 Aug
          I have an idea. (All you sane people can stop reading now.)
          With the price of gas so outrageous lately, everyone's talking about hybrid fuels and alternative fuel sources. I even read where people with diesel engines are burning vegetable oils. Personally, I'd like a research grant to study the possible use of marijuana as an alternative fuel. 
          The stuff grows everywhere and is easy to harvest. And forget about the gas mileage, the exhaust fumes alone would be worth the effort. I'm pretty sure it would solve the road rage problem, and the cop who pulled you over to give you a ticket would forget why he did so in the first place by the time he walked from his car to yours. 
          I'm thinking I could get the Hostess, Frito-Lay, or Pizza Hut people to fund my research, as they would be the companies that benefited the most once the product hit the market.

18 Aug
          The bad news is I'm still feeling bummed, dejected, depressed, apathetic, and jaded, and suffering from existential woe and a vexation of the spirit.
          The good news is I still have my thesaurus.

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   D A D!!!

19 Aug
           If I were to take all of the good moments in my life and stack them end for end, with my luck they'd topple over and crush me.

21 Aug
          Pen bought one of those 1GB iPod Shuffles. Think Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours, when he was sitting in his cell with the headphones on singing Roxanne
          Damn, that woman's cute.

23 Aug
Me: What audio advisory warning does the F5 Ground Collision Avoidence system give when you drop below the preset altitude?
Pte: (French female--shouting) Pull out, Pull out!
Me: (Once the laughter dies down): Close, it's Pull up, Pull up.

Aug 25
          (1) Last night I received an assignment from my superiors (2) concerning a heavily armed, top government agency. (3) After a quick but fraught with peril journey (4) I disabled the security system and (5) retrieved classified documents. (6) Several were destroyed outright to keep them out of enemy hands, (7) but after overcoming many daunting obstacles (8) I return the classified documents to my superior. (9)To celebrate the success of my mission, a banquet was held in my honour.

Translation:

          (1) Last night my wife (2) asked me to get the mail. (3) After looking both ways before crossing the street, (4) I unlocked the mailbox (5) and got the mail. (6) I threw the junk mail in the garbage (7) jumped the rose bush on the way home, (8) and gave the mail to my wife. (9) She took me to MacDonald's, and even super-sized my meal.

         My son, Ryan, is back from Alert just in time for his birthday. Thank God he didn't have to spend it there. I think they call it Alert because it's a constant struggle to stay that way. I mean bor-ing. Anyway,

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   R Y A N!!!

          He's 21 now, and in the military. I'd tell you what he does, but then I'd have to...er...caution you strongly. (Hey, this is Canada, eh.)

Aug 26
          So I called my son to wish him happy birthday last night, only to find out that my mom was in the hospital yesterday having surgery on the arm she broke last Saturday! Nothing like being kept in the loop. I called Mom at home, and apparently she's fine, but still.
That's it, next time the military sends me to some foreign country in the middle of the night to risk life and limb for Queen and Country, I'm not telling her. Oh, wait a minute...

27 Aug
      Pen and I are going to go to Toronto today, shopping. We were hoping to go back to Midland and catch the cruise through Georgian Bay, but the weather isn't co-operating. So it's off on a shopping spree we go. It should be a good day, as long as we don't get nabbed in a speed trap on the way down.

(Coded message? What coded message?)

29 Aug
Sgt: How long do you figure it'll take to teach this?
Me: Thirty minutes.
Sgt: Thirty minutes? Are you nuts? It'll take at least sixty.
Me: They've seen this stuff before. This is basically a review. Thirty minutes.
Sgt: Sixty.
Me: Thirty. 
Sgt: Sixty. You want to step outside and settle this?
Me: Sure. You want to say goodbye to your wife and kids first?
Sgt: Thirty it is.

30 Aug
          Pen booked my flight to Madison, Wisconsin from 3-6 November, so I guess I'm going to World Fantasy Con. Now all I have to do is find a place to stay. And while I'm thrilled to be going, I can't help but feel somewhat guilty, too. 
          All in all I figure it'll cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars. That's like Beverly Hills when all your budget allows for is the Possum Run Trailer Park--you know, the one right beside the toxic waste dump, under the high voltage power lines, down river from the nuclear power plant. 
          Pen says it's an investment in my writing career, but so far conventions are an investment that hasn't paid off. The latest rejection from BAEN just drove that point home. 
          So while I guess I'm going, I think we'll just call this little outing the Guilt Trip.
 

31 Aug
Pte: Could you check this report over for me MCpl?
Me: Sure. Hmm...not bad, but your spelling is atrocious.
Pte: It can't be that bad.
Me: You're kidding me, right? I mean, you spelled everything wrong.
Pte: There's no way I spelled everything wrong.
Me: Oh yeah? (Points to paper.) E-V-R-I-T-H-I-N-G.
Pte: Hm...Maybe I should redo this.
Me: Maybe you should.