The State of Things

Today is one of those days I woke up with absolutely nothing that deserves to be said in a blog.  It’s amazing how often the block hits only one part of the writing.  Today I don’t have blog-brain.

Of course, you’ll say, it was exactly for this purpose that I started doing a serial novel.  And you’re not wrong.  The problem is that I need to go over what I have of Rogue Magic, before I can finish it.  There are “wrong pointers” throughout it that need to be corrected before I go on with the thing.

Look, I’m printing it right now so I can go over it in my copious spare time, which usually amounts to in bed, before going to sleep.

I’ve started trying to take at least every other weekend off, but I’m not sure how that policy will hold up or work out.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, I’ve come to the conclusion what I was trying to do isn’t working: what I was trying to do is work on Guardian in the morning and for indie in the afternoon.  My brain won’t divide that way, and all I manage is stopping both.  I shall now attempt to finish Guardian in the next couple of weeks (enough to send on to the boss to do what he will, and then kick back, maybe) and then resume the indie, where, yes, I know, I’m late on a bunch of stuff, the second Vampire Musketeer and the fourth Dyce being the most pushy ones right now.  Then there’s the next musketeer mystery (probably) and then I need to work for Baen for a while.

Don’t worry, it will all get done, now I figured I need to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Of course it would help if I stopped having days where my body is awake but my brain is shambling around inside my head going “brainz” which it’s now sort of doing.

Ah, well, perhaps a better eating and exercise regimen and not being a derp about going to bed on time will help.  Now that the ankle is… not healed precisely, but not hurting like living fire, we should do okay.  And if you guys ever catch me going outside, over the ornamental stones, in my slippers, particularly on a wet day, you have my permission to hit me with the two by four with da nails init.

My for-fun reading right now is The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians by J. B. Bury, which might seem odd — and is — but lately I’ve been reading a lot about ancient peoples movements, which I think relates to a project growing/festering at the back of my brain.  (Think of it as World of Tiers, crossed with Chronicles of Amber but… well, mine, which as you know is a terrible thing for anything to be.)  If all goes well and I do the mass of work (six more books) between now and the end of the year, I hope to start on this one in January, whether it goes for Baen or indie depending on a whole bunch of stuff, including how long the books turn out to be, which I won’t know till I’m further into it.

Anyway, this book is giving me a ton of insight into things I learned as a little kid, about the Germanic invasions of Portugal.  This one, weirdly, sort of anticipates the current theory that the Germanic tribes trickled into the Empire and changed it enough that by the time it fell it was a Germanic principality/institution falling to wild Germanic tribes, rather than Rome as we know it falling to the Germans.

Anticipates?  Well, this book is from 1928.  I know, because I went and checked the copyright page halfway through, because I knew/thought it was about 100 years old, and then in a passage about “refugees” who came into the Roman Empire turning out to be really enemies, intent on destroying it from within, it had the passage “Note the difficulties present day Europe is having with refugees.”

Turns out they were talking about Greeks fleeing Turks.  Which goes to show you that plus que ca change….

Anyway, that’s the state of the writer right now.  I’m going to write some Julie mayhem now.


93 thoughts on “The State of Things

  1. I know that feeling of trying to split time between projects. I get it too in editing translations, when one is in progress and the first section of another hits my in box, all while I’m trying to find time and energy to work on blog project AND two magazine articles. You have my sympathy!

  2. It’s the middle of the day (well, kinda) and I am up. And brain is working, after a fashoin. And no, I’ve not even had an Old Fashioned (though it is tempting, I do have enough brain to know right now it is a Bad Idea) and I think of a weird noir Bond-ish intro… “Mayhem. Julie Mayhem.” Possibly punctuated by explosion.

    1. Please, Our Esteemed Hostess is a person, not a thing.

      Well, just so long as the progressive/socialist movement is kept from taking over. At that point we will all be turned into things – property of the state.

  3. In the spirit of plus ca change…. I first read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1956. Harriet Beecher Stowe kept going on about the plight of Hungarian refugees. So did the daily paper. At nine I didn’t have the historical context to make sense of this; after several rounds of comparing the copyright date with the daily headlines, I think I concluded that Stowe was a time-traveler.

    1. Since Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852, I imagine the refugees she speaks of were refugees of the wave of revolutions that rocked much of Europe in 1848. The revolutions and their aftermath sparked a bit of population displacement inside Europe and (many, literal) boatloads of immigration to the US.

      1. It seems to me to be rather likely that Europe, in the years following Bonaparte’s rampages, probably had refugees traveling every which way. First there were those fleeing Bonaparte, then those fleeing those fleeing Bonaparte, then those fleeing those chasing Bonaparte, then those fleeing ahead of those fleeing having caught Bonaparte …

        Stable populations would probably, upon investigation, probably prove the exception in History. All those sncient cities didn’t go to the trouble and expense of erecting walls because they were the decorative fashion, after all.

      2. Indeed, that was the case – there was a whole flood of German, Austrian and Hungarian political refugees who came to the US after the failures of the various 1848 revolutions. The German element even became known as ’48ers’.

        1. Yep. In fact, said refugees are often regarded as one of the reasons why Missouri didn’t manage to secede. Turns out people fleeing from aristocracy aren’t sympathetic to aristocrats. Who knew?

        2. It was one of the reasons why Lincoln was our first Republican president. He was not the more popular candidate going into the convention, but the most popular one quickly lost support after failing on the first ballot, and various others were mooted about. One was rejected because of his association with the Know-Nothings: Germans were anti-slavery, but it was best not to push their luck with an overly anti-immigrant candidate. (And anti-Catholic didn’t help, either.)

          1. Sort of. More that Lincoln was a lot of people’s first choice and everyone’s second choice–unlike Seward, who you either thought would be the Best President Ever or you thought would be a miserable failure.

            1. There were a few other candidates given serious consideration. Excluding one for his Know-Nothing membership was one of the reasons why Lincoln triumphed.

      3. Hm. One of my great great grandfathers came over here in 1866 or so trying to escape the Franco-Prussian War. Or since that happened in 1870 he probably saw the winds blowing that way and left Westphalia before it started.

        1. According to legend, one of the surnames in my family tree went o a country as missionaries. A few centuries later, they came back to their original country as mercenaries.

      4. There was another wave from Poland* and Germany in the 1880s and early 1890s when Bismarck was trying to tame (or eradicate) the Catholic Church in the German Empire with his “Kulturkampf.” You got some really fascinating new names in New Mexico, for example: Duran Gallegos y Pilsudsky.

        1. *Poland did not officially exist at that time, but apparently the former Poles talking to the census taker didn’t get the memo.

  4. By all means, write Julie’s Misadventures (or is this book set after she has Mrsadventures?) in lieu of other activities. We ought establish a precedent of the precedence of paying writing over unremunerated work, and paying writing that risks holding up other writers is highest priority.

    We’ll just amuse ourselves, no need for you to have any concern.

      1. Nyahhhh … Sarah knows that we are never intentionally destructive, and should an accident happen we, like Gyro Gearloose, always repair things so they’re better than ever!

        1. I don’t think we’ve ever broken anything so badly that we couldn’t patch it up and lie about it afterwards.

          1. Exactly! Why, she’s never even mentioned our having blown ouot the third sub-level Eastern dungeon, even though (meaningful glance around the room) someone erred and warped its replacement causing there to be no Tuesday tea-time in that part of reality.

            1. It’s not MY fault that the contractor misheard “tea-time” and installed a golf course! Neither am I to blame for the DEA coming to investigate the “grow lights to help the grass grow.” (I thought using goats to keep the greens short would have worked if the T-Rex hadn’t gotten loose.)

              1. I told you the grow lights used too much gamma radiation.

                Sheesh, all these mad scientists not listening to each other.

      2. I supposed I could amuse myself at Sarah’s Diner much as I do in many a diner, by ordering corned beef hash, two eggs over-medium, and buttered wheat toast, with a chocolate milk (or shake), and reading a good book. But letting Fluffy loose might be more entertaining.

              1. the whole ‘ going to a different war in a different time period and walking back out the door five minutes later’ wears on you.Lorica segmentata is heavy and 24-century power armor is awesome.

  5. It is quite common, as one ages and experiences various traumas, for one’s brain to require different manners of organizing and performing tasks. Leave us all fervently hope that you quickly find a congenial system and that it holds up for a while.

    I have found I am no longer able to juggle intellectual tasks, so that I no longer can read, carry on a conversation, watch television and listen to music all at the same time. I still try, but it rarely works, especially as much of what I hear goes in one ear and out the other (and I refuse to cut off that other ear as my reading glasses would then sit at an awkward angle.)

  6. Sounds like your brain works a lot like mine. I’ve tried the “work on Project 1 during Time Block A and Project 2 during Time Block B,” and every time either one took over or both ground to a halt, getting in each other’s way. So generally I only switch projects midstream if one gets stuck and I need to get away from that one to unstick it (and then there’s the problem of feeling that I “owe” one project — I so nodded with fellow-feel when I read your mentions of feeling like that about a novel under contract).

    I now have an entire month until our next sales event (not a good thing, since Tampa Bay Comic Con sales were down and we now have to make that money last until Labor Day weekend), so we’ll see if I can get a whole bunch of productivity out of it or I’ll get stuck on one thing and spend most of the time spinning my wheels.

    1. I do that sort of switching all the time, and not just two projects. I have to keep an eye on it to get anything done.

  7. I resent calling it an invasion. I was only there three times and it was still standing when I left.

  8. Your not-blog-comments are thought-provoking and interesting. Look at all the responses. Book ideas, etc. etc. Now we only have to wait until you get yours out of your head and into our hands. Thanks again!

  9. What seems to work for a lot of writers is to have several projects on the back burner, focus on one until you strike an impasse that your back brain needs time to chew on, so refocus to the next on your list.
    Of course when you encounter total blockage body and brain are telling you it’s time for a break. Have a light snack of whatever comfort food you care for, then take a nap. Hopefully you’ll awaken energized and refreshed. If that doesn’t work exercise or mindless distractions until the author node reboots.

    1. I try to have two books going at the same time – when I get stuck on one, or just don’t feel anything — I work on the other. Of course, sometimes, the one project keeps getting back-burnered; my Gold Rush adventure, “The Golden Road” got backburnered by two other historicals, and a couple of Luna City comedies… It took me about four years to finally finished it, for good and all.

      1. Just remember, if you wake from drug-induced slumber to write an epic and there’s a knock on the door … Do. Not. Answer.

        1. I suppose it depends on whether you’re literally turning your comfort foods into drinks by putting them in the blender, or you’re changing from one (foods) to another (drinks – mine are mostly based in grains and copper pots). 🙂

  10. I’ve been studying the Arthurian Era, which also relates to the barbarian invasions. Food for stories, and for thought when I see the current state of the world.

    1. In fiction it has its interesting aspects. . . what annoys me most about “realistic” treatments of Arthur, in the actual barbarian invasion eras, is that they often try to give the real origin of characters who were obviously added to the mythos long after the the original stories.

      1. What annoys me is that they’re freaking BORING.

        You can’t have a dude be Audie Murphy, nooo, he’s gotta be Joe the Dude from Down the Street as told by the guy who can’t pack his own luggage up a flight of stairs.

  11. I just picked up Siege at Uncle Hugo’s yesterday while Larry was there to sign it. I look forward to your contribution, and I still hope you might get up this way sometime for a signing at Uncle Hugo’s. Meanwhile I’m working my way through your back-list as well as the work of others I’ve found either through this blog or through the blogs that led me here.

    Finding writers who pay attention to keeping the reader entertained has re-ignited my interest in reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

    1. You know I’ve been reading old pulp as a side project, and even with the science all wrong, and the politics often horrible, they keep you reading, keep you amused. This I aspire to.

    2. Dang, for just a second, I thought there was a book called Siege at Uncle Hugo’s. I thought “I have to buy that!”

    1. You can drop C-4, you can shoot it, you can run electricity through it, you can burn C-4, all safely, but only one at a time, which makes the throwing the CRT and explosives down the elevator shaft scene in Die Hard possible since CRTs can spark if broken.

        1. Aw gee, do you think you could put that to the tune of C’est si bon?

          C-4 Boom
          C-4 boom,

          C’est parce que C-4 Boom!
          C’est parce que C-4 Boom!
          C’est parce que C-4 Boom…

          1. I know just enough French to know that the sounds that make up the language should make it ugly, but I nonetheless find French to be a very beautiful language. It’s a paradox that perplexes me…

            OTOH, it’s my understanding that Russian, German and Japanese are supposed to be rough languages, yet I find them pretty as well, so I’m not sure if my aesthetics of languages should be trusted…

            (A caveat: while I’ve tried, to one degree or another, to learn these other languages, I haven’t spent nearly as much time learning these as I have French…)

            1. It’s a matter of attitude and expectations.
              If you bark out “ICH LIEBE DICH!” it sounds like it might a threat.
              Said more softly, it sounds as it is likely meant.
              Now, “Ich hasse dich.” has its own special troubles for English(-only) speakers, no matter if said soft or harsh.

  12. > rather than Rome as we know it falling to the Germans.
    Well, yeah. Closer to the end no one could be arsed to defend the empire – except “barbarians” (mercenaries who could turn on it if they thought there’s a good chance) and Christians (who were subversive toward some of its foundations, not that this mattered much when everything rolled downhill anyway).
    Without either of those it would be unable to drag itself along quite as long as it did.

    1. It’s not just that. Even the best families had intermarried with retired German mercenaries. It wasn’t as we’ve been taught: indolent, useless upper classes, etc. It was that the Empire had ALREADY become German. At least tit explains Germans’ fixation with the “reich”

      1. This is why most alt-history “if Rome never fell” stories fall flat for me. It’s like history stops at the moment of divergence. I think Thomas Harlan’s Oath of Empire is the only one I found believable.

  13. I got nothing. Currently crying in my coffee as I realized yesterday that I have a lot more research to do on one project…

  14. Is it worth examining a fundamental difference between immigrants and refugees?

    One is looking for a new homeland, with all that implies.

    The other is looking for a safer place to continue the old homeland, with all that implies.

    1. I think immigrants and refugees are two different but potentially overlapping categories. Neither category necessarily implies a desire to truly become part of American society.

      1. The point so oft o’erlooked with Ms Lazarus’ poem is that those tired, poor and huddled masses are yearning to be free. That means free of the old ways, of the old principles of governance by those who hold power without legitimacy, who wield power without consent of the people.

        Being tired, poor and huddled is insufficient. Wanting to be American is also necessary.

        1. Indeed. And I have no qualms with pushing the assimilationist model here in America.

          There’s a major difference in kind between pursuing such a model in a nation like America (or even Canada or Australia) that is built upon immigration, than there is when such a policy was pursued in European empires in the late 19th and early 20th century. Here in America, it is essentially a demand that those coming to America come her and become Americans, in spirit as well as in name. (I leave aside the issue of pursuing the assimilationist model with respect to the American Indians as a separate topic.)

          When the European empires were pursuing such policies 100-150 years ago, they were pursuing it to complete subjugation of conquered peoples. The German “Kulturkampf” TXRed mentioned above, the Magyarization policies in Hungary, the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire, and various Russian policies were aimed at forcing the conquered to abandon their language and other culture and adopt that of their conqueror. While such policies may have ultimately yielded more cohesive and coherent polities if they’d been allowed to continue (WWI and its aftermath interfered), their morality is IMHO questionable.

          1. As I recall, one of the strengths of the Roman Republic (and Empire) was the fact that you could become Roman; you could achieve citizenship and all benefits pertaining there to. Of course, that made it harder to keep the riff-raff out, but it helped assure a supply of loyal new citizens.

            1. Yeah, otherwise they couldn’t have sustained the losses they took in their wars.

            2. I think also that to some extent, Rome was also based on an idea rather than on a tribe (although it may have started out tribal). If not nearly as much as America, then at least more so than the empires that came before it, and the contemporary empires as well….

              This may have changed somewhat when the Republic fell apart and was replaced by the Empire, but I don’t think the idea went away completely…

          2. This is why I only half-fear the wave of illegal immigration. On the one hand, we have forces doing their darnedest to make sure that these people don’t assimilate. This annoys me greatly, because it’s clear that the critters in power who don’t want these groups to assimilate are hoping that these unassimilated people will provide a wonderful voting base to establish power to control everyone’s lives.

            OTOH, these illegals are coming here because they know that there’s something wrong with their homeland, and yearn for something better. Chances are, they’re here because they want to establish a life for themselves. Chances are, they’re here for freedom.

            I couldn’t care less if someone wants to continue to speak their native language, and keep their homeland traditions alive — so long as they’re willing to give up the two traditions that made their homeland a country worth fleeing: the culture of corruption, where the law is only as good as the smallest amount a police officer is willing to accept to look the other way, and the culture of regulating everything to the point that a culture of corruption has to arise, just so that things can get done.

            And I wish we could get certain Americans to abandon these two cultural traditions that have developed, too. (California, New York, and Illinois, in particular: I’m looking at *you*.)

            Oh, and if you come here, you *really* ought to learn English, regardless! There’s too many people here who are willing to keep you in the dark so that they can take advantage of your lack of legal status (or even legal status, if you find your way here legally like that)…

            1. On the one hand, we have forces doing their darnedest to make sure that these people don’t assimilate.

              You credit them with too much modesty in their ambitions. They also want people born here to not assimilate. That is why they impose teaching the Wages of Zinn in schools.

            2. OTOH, these illegals are coming here because they know that there’s something wrong with their homeland, and yearn for something better. Chances are, they’re here because they want to establish a life for themselves. Chances are, they’re here for freedom.

              Mostly, no.
              It’s a relatively large pay check for the labor involved.

              Freedom, not so much– those that hunger and thirst for America know that if they come here illegally, they can never get what they want.

      2. Economic immigrants would be reason for temporary work visas, upgradable if they wish to stay and integrate, but because there’s the risk of THAT they should meet all qualifications of permanent employees. This is not just my idea, btw, every othe country does this.

        1. I think it should be that way here, too, but currently its not. And as I believe you’ve mentioned experiencing yourself, many on the left resists even voluntary assimilation by immigrants. They wish to force the “salad bowl” over the “melting pot.”

        2. In theory, I think anyone who wants to work, should be able to freely come here to do so. To remove the temptation to do otherwise, we should completely scrap the Welfare State altogether.

          Of course, the chances of getting rid of the Welfare State happens to be the same as a snowball’s chance in Heck, so, in practice, my chances me supporting the right for everyone to freely come here to do so is the same as the survival prospects of said snowball….

          Sigh. The perils of being a libertarian in a semi-Socialist State…

    2. Of course it is worth, but like getting rid of welfare you’re never going to get rid of refugee visas. the best you can do is have a demand they integrate. (Most of them end up doing so, even when settled in communities of their kind, but it takes generations. So not letting them form communities might be the first step.)

      1. Once you look at it, one important consequence is that, if you take in enough refugees…. you’re *volunteering* to be colonized. (Enough refugees are you’re volunteering to be invaded….)

        Your society and culture may be strong enough to overcome that, but not every one is. Mind you, the Arabs are *very* aware of this. Look at what happened to the ‘Palestinians’.

  15. Off-topic, but I’ve started to read _Dipped, Stripped, and Dead_ to my wife (usually while she’s driving the car) and I need to know: how do you pronounce Candyce Chocolat “Dyce” Dare? Is it cand-iss or cand-eess or canned-ice? Is it shock-oh-lot or chock-latt or what?

  16. I just found this. I’ve been looking for a definition of conspiracy to match against a certain fact pattern. This is not that, but it is almost as useful

    I now have a new evil strategy to game litigation for political ends. (The sure and certain grounds for it has failure is that Judges of conservative ideology are not reliable Republican tribalists where legal decisions are concerned.)

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