It’s That Time of Year Again

Xmas Promo

Maybe you’ve finished up your NaNoWriMo novel and want to give it a thorough revision and polishing-up now that the first draft’s done. Maybe you’ve got a finished novel that you want to take to the next level before sending it out on the next stage of its life journey. Or maybe you’ve got a friend or a relative who has written, or is writing, or hopes to write a book, and you’re looking for a Christmas present that will help them make their dream a reality.

It’s for people like them — and you — that I’m running my annual holiday special, where my usual rate for a standard-sized novel goes down from $1500 to $1000, and my rate for doorstop-sized novels of 120,000-plus words goes down from $2K to $1500.

As usual, the gift of editorial services (no matter whether you’re giving it to yourself or to a friend) can be purchased now at the seasonal gift rate and redeemed at whatever later date is convenient to the recipient.

Details of payment, format, and so forth can be found here.

Nashua Winter Holiday Stroll

Madhouse Manor

Come see the Granite State Magicians (including your handsome young friend, me) at the Holiday Stroll this Saturday, November 30th, in Nashua NH.Jim Macdonald, Magician

We’re putting on a free magic show as part of the festivities at 30 Temple Street, Lower Level, between 7:10 and 8:10 pm.  The performers will be Lord and Lady BlackSword, Wayne Harmon, Jim Macdonald, and Corky the Clown.

I promise you a good time! (And don’t forget all the rest of the events at the Winter Holiday Stroll….)

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Happy Official Start of Leaf-Peeping Season Day!

Hey, if we’re going to continue with the grand renaming of everything, I might as well plump for my own candidate.

This date has long been the time when the New England autumnal colors start to peak, up here at the northern end of their range.  A dedicated leaf-peeper can start up here and follow the colors southward to finish up in Connecticut, by which time we up here are looking at bare trees and starting to fret about the first snowfall.

Sigh.

I wake up and scan CNN for the morning news and find this:

“The “OK” hand gesture is now a hate symbol, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.”

I really really hate it when something long-time innocuous or even positive gets co-opted by the alt-right extremist nutjobs, so that it’s no longer available for use by normal people. Because while I may think that the proper response to such highway robbery — and it is robbery; they are taking something from us without our consent — is not passive acquiescence but active pushback, that is not how it works in today’s world.

(I mean, you can’t even fly the goddamned flag any more without people thinking that you are, at best, a MAGA-hat-wearing right-winger.)

And the most annoying thing about the OK-sign story? The part where it all started as a hoax on 4chan. I mean, I said to someone a while back that I could probably pick something — anything at all — and start a rumor that it was linked to something else despicable, but I hadn’t realized that someone had actually done it.

So We Watched Veronica Mars Season the Next

They call it Season Four, but it’s post-VM-the-Movie, so I suppose we’re supposed to regard the movie as Season Three Point Five?

Anyhow . . . good show, better than Original Season Three, also better than VM-the-Movie.  And like everyone else on the internet, I have opinions about That Ending.

SPOILER ALERT

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Actually, I think it was a good ending for the season, mostly because it could be worked multiple ways depending upon the future, if any, of the televised Mars-verse.  To wit:

If there are no more Veronica Mars series, specials, movies, or related works, then the fact that Logan died is genre-appropriate, since VM takes place in one of the sunny California suburbs of the Land of Noir, and in noir detective fiction everything always ends up sucking, especially for the detective protagonist.

If there is another series, or another movie, then the “we never saw a body” and “nobody ever actually says the ‘dead’ word” factors come into play, and more choices open up.  Again, to wit:

If they can’t get Jason Dohring to come back, or if he doesn’t want to come back, or if they just don’t feel like working with the character any more, then Logan stays dead as a string-art nail.  Dead!Logan could either just be a part of Veronica’s Tragic Past, or he could be the heart of her next investigation, since another of the rules of the Mars-verse is that nothing is ever what it seems to have been the first time around.

If, on the other hand, they do want to keep on working with the character, and we’ve got NotActuallyDead!Logan in play, then we’ve got the how and the why of that to drive a future season. The current season made a lot of hay out of Logan’s intelligence work, including sudden summonses to active duty while he was supposedly on extended leave, and references to combat experience, and the fact that he’s learned to speak Arabic — not an easy thing; Uncle Sam will teach it to you if he thinks you’ll need to know it, but the course is no picnic — and maybe it was just window-dressing, but it could also have been positional play for possible future stuff.

(And am I the only person who thinks that the tale of how Logan Echolls transformed himself from “aimless layabout with anger issues” into “responsible US Naval officer with what looks to be a good career going for him” would actually have made an interesting story all on its own?)

Also — I initially tried to hide the spoilers more subtly with a cut tag, but my html-fu wasn’t up to the task.

HORROR FOR THE THRONE

Over on Jim Macdonald’s blog, an ANNOUNCEMENT:

Madhouse Manor

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Ian Randal Strock’s Fantastic Books has contracted with James D. Macdonald, Judith K. Dial, and Tom Easton for an anthology of 40 short horror stories to be called

HORROR FOR THE THRONE

ONE-SITTING READS

We will open for submissions on August 8, 2019. Submissions will close September 15, 2019.  Proposed publication date is early 2020, in all the usual paper and electronic formats.

We’re looking for reprints.  Previously published where the rights have reverted to the author.   500-2000 words.  Pay is $20 flat fee for non-exclusive reprint rights.  The stories should NOT involve bathroom horror.

Send submissions (and questions) to Tom at profeaston@verizon.net.

The book will join SCIENCE FICTION FOR THE THRONE and FANTASY FOR THE THRONE on Ian’s dealer table at numerous conventions (as well as on his website at fantasticbooks.biz and on Amazon etc.). With luck, everyone will decide they just have…

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These Days, the Internet Would Fall on Their Heads.

It’s not only future right-wing conservative Supreme Court justices who engage in youthful hijinks involving blackface; once upon a time, the young Virginia Woolf and her friends did something much the same, impersonating the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage and convincing the CO of HMS Dreadnaught to give them a royal welcome and an official tour.

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(That’s Woolf on the far left, in drag and — frankly — fairly unconvincing makeup.)

Everybody seemed at the time to regard this as a jolly good prank, with the exception of the British Navy, which was embarrassed. (What the Abyssinians thought about the whole affair doesn’t seem to have been recorded — if, indeed, they heard about it at all.)

There’s a 2017 New Yorker article about the affair that waxes pontifical about the symbolic meanings underlying the hoaxers’ acts. It makes some interesting points . . . but as far as I can tell, the hoaxers were just upperclass intellectual twits whose agenda, if they had one, could be boiled down to “make Authority look silly.”

“An Accomplished Man and a Gallant Officer….”

From Jim Macdonald’s blog, the first stop on our Major Andre Historical Tour:

Madhouse Manor

John André, A Representation of Major John André…going from the Vulture Sloop of War, aquatint, circa 1781. John André, A Representation of Major John André…going from the Vulture Sloop of War, aquatint, circa 1781.

Although I grew up in the area I had never paid much attention to this part of American history.  I therefore determined that, since I was once again in southern New York for a science fiction convention that I would go down a few days early to follow the path of Major John André, Adjutant-General to the British Army during the American Revolution.

Haverstraw Beacj State Park

Our first stop was the Treason Site, where Major André met with Lieutenant General Benedict Arnold.  We drove up from Nyack, NY, under clouds that threatened rain, to Haverstraw, NY.  There, in the woods that are now Haverstraw Beach State Park, André came ashore and met with Arnold. From Nyack you go north on Rt 9W (Not, as you might think, 9 West, but 9W.  There…

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On Villainy

I’ve written here before about the necessity — in my opinion — of making one’s villains well-rounded characters and not merely evil mustache-twirling sockpuppets. By which I mean granting them their virtues as well as their vices, and giving them friends as well as enemies, and generally treating them with a certain amount of respect even as they go forth to meet their richly deserved ends at the hands of the protagonist of the tale.

I don’t know if what I’m encountering a lot of lately is the start of a disturbing new trend, or just the result of seeing a lot of plain old-fashioned bad writing and worse criticism . . . but readers and writers both seem to be getting more into villains who are evil all the way through, from the flaky top crust of their characterization down to the soggy underbaked bottom. Anything in the line of subtlety or multidimensionality or (dare I use the word?) empathy is decried as normalizing or valorizing their badness.

This is, in my opinion, wrong. We as writers humanize our monsters in order to drive home the idea that not only are they people just like us . . . we are, if we’re not careful, people just like them.

And yeah, there are always going to be some readers who simply don’t get it, in the same way that there’s always some genius in the English Lit survey class who thinks that Jonathan Swift was speaking literally when he wrote A Modest Proposal.†

But we shouldn’t have to be in the business of writing for those people.


Spoiler: He wasn’t.