The Lost Hour

What if a murder occurred in the lost hour from daylight savings?  From Kristen Lamb.

The Curse of Perfection

November marks NanoWrite, which is is when many writers try to write 50K in 30 days.  Nano, perhaps curiously, reminds me of the cooking competitions on Food Network.  They just finished up the Halloween Baking Championship and are about to start the Holiday Baking Championship.  There’s all the cake competitions too.

Particularly with the cake competitions, we sometimes get a cake decorator who proudly boasts up front that their standard is perfection.

Then they make contact with the timed challenge of the competition.

There’s no time to be perfect.

But some of them try to hang onto the perfection, and the time crunch pulls them apart.  They start making careless mistakes that put them behind.  Because they’re still focusing on perfection, they fall further and further behind, refusing to abandon part of piece that’s too complicated or try something else.

Others quickly toss out the perfection, but veer in another just as bad direction.  They go sloppy.  Their focus becomes laser focused on finishing, without regard to quality.

Suddenly they hear “One hour left” and it’s a mad rush to try to pull everything together.  Only it’s really too late to play catch up, and the piece either ends up a mess or on the floor.

Which sounds a lot like Nano.  The purpose is to drive out the perfectionist, because if you stop to perfect each sentence, you’ll never get 50K by the end of the month.   Yet, it’s hard for writers to let go of needing to be perfect and they end up not even getting close to their goals.  Or they write sloppy.   Imagine writing a story and leaving out all the punctuation.  Now imagine having to fix that during a revision.


Perfect is a curse, because it is anything but perfect.


Favorite Halloween Monster?

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  I remember from the original (and horribly dated now) Beauty and the Beast when Vincent said that Halloween was when “the walls between the worlds grow thin and spirits roam the Earth.”  The holiday is delightfully spooky with ghosts, spiderwebs, and other ghoulish things.

My local Thai restaurant had bobbing ghosts in the entry way–cloth draped over balloons.  Simple and very effective.  There’s also a house down the street with a giant inflatable dragon.

My favorite ghoul of the season is the skeleton.  There’s something really fun about skeletons.  The image below reminded me of a Buck Rogers second season episode where Mark Lenard was an alien being who could remove his head.

What’s your favorite Halloween ghoul?


Skeleton lift its head up

Escaping the World

It’s not been a good two weeks because of all the hysteria and nastiness in the media.  And it’s toxic, especially for my creativity.  After reading the book Your Happiness is Hacked (and highly recommended!), it was very eye opening to how we’re being manipulated by social media.

But the book also mentions that people spend their time on their SmartPhones and don’t get out in nature much any more.  So I thought a trip out to have some fun was in order.  Nature is one of the greatest things for refreshing me.

I found Occuquan Regional Park.  It’s a  park with boating ramps and some nice paths following along the Occuquan River.

This is a view of the river.   Though it looks like it’s about to storm, it never did.  I’m still waiting for some rain.  And it’s humid!

View of Occuquan River from Occuquan Regional Park

Some fall colors.  We’re still about a month off from all the trees turning, so these are some early birds.  I think these are oaks.

Some of the trees are turning orange!

And a historical sighting.  This is called the Beehive Kiln.  Some of the history is here.

Round brick kiln and brick smoke stack





Rain is a Fascinating Thing

I woke up to rain this morning.  Since I grew up in Los Angeles where the sky is clear most of the time and rain an infrequent thing, it’s fun watching, or listening to the rain.

Especially at night, watching it spill over the street in the halos of the street lights.  I sat at the widow seat as we flew over thunderclouds and watched the lightning flash below (flying through thunderclouds…not so much).

Still I had business at hand, so it was off to the farmer’s market for fruit and vegetables.  It was raining enough that I had to be careful not to have water dumped down my back at the edges of the tents the vendors set up.

Me in a rain coat against a rainy street background

Contest Giveaway: Guess the Actor

And we have a winner!  Peggy got the name!

This is Richard Hatch, who starred in the first (and in my opinion, the best) version of Battlestar Galactica as Adam’s son Apollo.

We still have the Star Trek lady below to guess, and another one above.

No one’s guessed the actress below.  If no one does, I’ll post who she is in a few days.  Meanwhile, here’s another actor to identify.

Actor seated in chair, a stuffed bear in one arm and a stuffed koala in the other

This was taken at DragonCon in 1997.  He sat a couple of tables away from David Hedison, so when he started playing around with the stuffed animals, I had to grab a shot.

The actor starred in a 1970s science fiction TV show.  He passed away last year.

First person to guess his name gets a coupon code for the 2018 Military SF Story Bundle.

Socks, Socks, My Kingdom for a Sock

When I was growing up, we had what we called “The Orphan Pile” in the laundry room.  It was a bunch of my father’s socks.  He always bought black socks, same brand, all looked alike.

Then they got washed.

And some would get eaten by the dryer or the washer.  Or maybe the cats or dogs.

So they would go into the orphan pile with the hope of eventually find the missing sock.  Somehow, despite all starting out in the same color and same brand, they emerged from the washer mutated and none of them would ever have mates again.

What the heck does the dryer do with them?

The Portal Room

View of the bed with a large wooden headboard. Sink is to the left.

For my trip the the family house, I stayed in what we call The Portal Room.

Ornate fireplace, framed by stained glass

It’s called that because all the ghosts use the fire place as a portal to the house.  Several family members have seen the ghosts of children here.  The ghosts are friendly–they are past family members coming to visit.

I didn’t see any ghosts, or even experience the sensation of a presence or being watched.  But there are three rooms in the house, all in the same area, where there is a lot of activity.  The ghosts come in and move things around.

A few more pictures of the room…

Antique dresser with mirror

And a sign that’s in the room that you won’t see anywhere:

Sign: This room is equipped with Edison Electric Light. Do not attempt to light with a match. Simply turn key on wall by the door. The use of electricity for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep.

Photo: Grace Lee Whitney from Star Trek

Medium Shot of Grace Lee Whitney

My novel Crying Planet is coming out in Story Bundle tomorrow. The story is everything I liked about Star Trek–space, adventures, aliens, and maybe a little bit to think about.  Plus military thrown in well, because.  So I thought it would be fun to put up photos I took of actors from shows like Star Trek.

This one is of Grace Lee Whitney.  It’s not dated, but I probably would have taken it in the 1990s at one of those cons.  I was going to quite a few then and getting a lot of photos.

She was on the original Star Trek, of course.  Not in that many episodes,  but she was pretty memorable to all the fans.  She passed away in 2015.

Pintrest has some nice shots of her. Mostly from Star Trek, but there’s a few bathing suit shots and some photos from her other roles.  Someone even Photoshopped one of her in a mirror universe uniform!

Traveling by Air—Then and Now

Passengers walk out to board plane as the sun sets above.

I’m old enough to remember what it was like to travel before everything changed so much.  Most of my travel when I was growing up was flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  I think I probably did a trip to San Luis Obispo a few times too.

We used PSA, the smiling airplane (had a big smile on the front of the plane).  PSA stood for Pacific Southwest Airlines, and it serviced California.  The uniforms for the flight attendants were pink and orange.

We got a paper ticket in a little envelope, well in advance of the flight.  I was always terrified that I was going to lose that ticket!

If I was traveling by myself, my parents waited with me at the gate until I boarded.

We boarded the planes by walking out on the tarmac and climbing up steep aluminum stairs as the engines roared and the wind whipped around us.  The cockpit would be open, the bright light streaming in from outside. I could see all the gauges—just wall to wall with them!

The seats were also pink and orange, made of cloth.  The cabin was quite roomy.  You can see some interior photos here—some pretty cool pictures.  The bathrooms—ah, I don’t think there’s much difference between then and today.

When I got off the plane at the other end, I exited out of the gate and there was another family member like my grandparents waiting for me.

Meanwhile, I was just in Wisconsin the last few days.  I flew over on American Airlines.  I started the day with an email telling me my first flight was going to be delayed so I would miss my connection.  I rebooked a new outbound flight and had to go to the airport immediately because I was now in the 2-hour window.

Race down to the airport in my car (which I so did not want to do; a taxi would have been much cheaper).  I find the gate on the board, go through security, and then find the gate.  A screen shows my flight.

Then it blinks and my flight is replaced with one from New York.

Wait!  What happened to my flight?  This did not bode well.

I went back to check the flight list. That still showed the old gate.  DCA is pretty small (it started life as a regional airport), so another passenger and I check the other gates.  This part of the terminal is packed with people, so we’re navigating around people and suitcases.  Everyone is talking, so we can’t even hear the speakers.

Ah ha!  We find the missing flight.

We’re barely there a minute when the flight blanks out and is replaced by another flight.

We start hunting for the flight again, and it’s back at the original gate again.  I can feel my eyes crossing.

The flight attendants are courteous.  But I feel like all the airline is treating me like I’m a dollar sign to them.  The airlines charge to put the bags in the hold, forcing the passengers to try to bring everything on the plane.  Since it’s a commuter plane, all the rollaway bags end up in the baggage hold anyway so the passengers aren’t charged.  Really, how smart is this anyway?  (I had a backpack since I know from past experience if I have anything even slightly bigger, I might not get it into the bins because everyone is bringing such big bags).

We’re herded onto the plane like cattle.  I’m only 5’4” and the seats are too small for me.  On one of the flights, I sit next to an overweight woman who spills over into my seat.  She’s sunburned bright red from her knees down.  On another flight, I end up at the window.  Since getting out of my seat would require the passenger next to me to actually get up, I don’t get up to use the bathroom before we land (therefore, I really have to go when we do).

Flying is just chaos!  What are your horror stories?