Monday, December 30, 2019

Performance Review

Hello, all. Hope the holidays have been good to you so far. I got to play a pleasant Christmas morning game with most of the presents called “Did the Tree Leak Or Is This Cat Pee?” Fortunately nothing was damaged. And we’re pretty sure it was just water. Like... 83% sure.

Anyway...

I had something else planned for the ranty blog but it struck me this is the last week of the year, so I wanted to stick with tradition and talk about what I got done over these past 367 days. It’s not meant as a brag or guideline or anything like that—my pace is my pace, your pace is your pace. Plus, talking with another pro friend at a Christmas party reminded me how slow my pace is compared to some folks. And I know I’m much faster than some.

Really, this is one of those posts that’s more for me than you. It’s me going over the year and seeing how much did I really get done? How much did I write this year? And this involves going through lots of files, checking the blog, searching under the couch cushions for excess words, all of that.

Anyway, here’s some of my noteworthy accomplishments of the year, if such things interest you.

I write the back half of Terminus, the new Audible exclusive that you’re probably going to be seeing (well, hearing) in about four weeks, if all sticks to plan. I was about 45,000 words into it when last year ended and then did another 60K or so. Then there was lots and lots and lots of editing. And copyediting. I think we ended up with a manuscript of about 101,000 words, when the smoke cleared and all the blood was hosed away.

I went back to work on the outlines for another book and ultimately decided... it wasn’t going to happen. I had beginnings I liked. I had endings I liked. But I just couldn’t seem to make them meet in the middle, no matter how I tried it. And after sort of banging pieces together for a week or three (after already working on it for a few weeks before Terminus)... I gave up on it.

I mean, I didn’t burn all my notes or anything. It’s still there wating for me to go back to it. But I’m a big believer that there’s a point where outlining and other forms of prep just become... well, wasted time. At that point I’d spent over two months trying to make the outline work and I’d lost a lot of enthusiasm for the project in the process. So I set it aside and moved on.

Fortunately, another idea had kinda splashed down in my head like an old Apollo capsule, and it seemed really solid. I had a three page outline that made me happy in about as many days and I just... dove in. That was mid-October or so. As I’m writing this, it’s just shy of 50,000 words in. Which I think isn’t bad considering the holidays and we had my parents stay with us for Thanksgiving.

There were also lots of blog posts. Counting this one, there were sixty-seven posts here on the ranty blog this year. In all fairness, I think nine or ten of those were cartoons by Tom Gauld or something similar, but I feel pretty safe saying there was, on average, a new post every single week, most of them around 2000 words or so. That adds up pretty quick.

There were eleven Writers Coffeehouses up in Burbank at Dark Delicacies and maybe another four or five where I filled in down at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.

I read a lot, too. Thirty-seven books, if my math is right. Twelve of those were for the dystopian book club at The Last Bookstore. Also a good-sized pile of comics and trade collections. A dozen or so different articles from the Washington Post each week.

And if we want to get silly, there were probably forty or more Saturday geekery rants analyzing bad movies and some of the basic flaws they were tripping over. Sure, that’s Twitter, and it’s kind of my downtime, but it’s still me actively analyzing and critiquing stories

How about you? What did you get done this year? What things could you add to your list of writing accomplishments? Nothing needs to be official or accepted. You didn’t need to earn a minimum amount off it. It’s just stuff you do that you honestly feel contributes to your writing process. How much progress did you make toward your end goal?

What did you get done this year?

And with that, I bid you farewell until next year, when we’ll talk about... well, I’m sure all kinds of things. Is there some particular aspect of writing you’d like to hear me blab on about, or a problem I could possibly help with? Just let me know down in the comments.

Happy New Year. See you again in the far-flung future of 2020.

Until then, go write.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Heartwarming Holiday Tale of...

Y’know, I just realized something. This might be the last post of the year if I don’t do some off-day stuff.  I may have to reschedule some things...

That said... less than a week till Christmas. Writing’s probably (understandably) one of the last things on your mind. Or maybe it’s right there, teasing you with cool new ideas. Perhaps even holiday-themed ideas.

Writing stories that revolve around Christmas—or any holiday—is tempting.  It’s very relatable. A lot of the groundwork is already done for us as far as setting goes. Heck, depending on my characters, a lot of backstory may already be done. A Christmas story can be kinda freeing and give us an instant theme to go with. Or go against. Everything becomes more shocking and dynamic when set against a bunch of innocent carolers trying to sing “Joy to the World.” Except maybe another group of carolers.

Plus, let’s just be honest. Christmas stories are lucrative.  Forget superheroes, there’s a fair argument to be made that Christmas stories are one of the best-selling genres out there, especially if you write screenplays. Seriously. Think of all those cable and streaming channels that are just brimming with original movies about dogs and holiday romances. I was in a holiday-themed anthology a couple years back, and I know there’ve been several more since then.

Forgive me for sounding all capitalist, but... there’s a lot of money to be made off Christmas.

Now, that said...

If I’m thinking about a clever idea for a holiday story I do need to be a little careful.  The ugly truth is, it’s all been done before.  All of it.  No matter how clever or original I think my take is, there’s a good chance someone’s done it before.  Because, as I mentioned above, this is a huge market and lots of folks have written lots of stories.

Look at it this way.  Think of all the different versions of A Christmas Carol you’ve ever seen or heard of.  There’ve been books, plays, movies, and animated specials. We’ve all seen it done dozens and dozens of times, set in the past, present, and future. There’ve been versions of it that leaned toward drama, toward comedy, horror, sci-fi, you name it. I’d guess at least thirty or forty television shows have done takes of it, too. Heck, just in the past couple years they’ve done it on Ducktales, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, and Family Guy.

How about Santa? There’s Santa Claus origin stories. Evil Santa stories. Cool Santa. Robot Santa. Son of Santa. Daughter of Santa. Brother of Santa. New Santa. Heck, at this point I’ve seen multiple stories where Santa’s an action star defending his workshop from invaders. Like, it’s pretty much a solid subgenre at this point.

Heck, at this point Krampus is pretty commonplace. He shows up in a bunch of books. Just typing the name into IMDb gives me over a dozen movies where he’s specifically mentioned in the title, and I could probably come up with just as many where he isn’t. There’ve probably been another dozen or so supernatural-themed shows where he’s appeared in as well (he had an appearance on Grimm that I really liked).

All done many times. In many ways. I’m not saying these stories can’t be done again, but this is one of those areas where I really need to be aware how often this relatively small pool of material’s been mined for ideas.

Except... weird as it sounds, there is kind of a niche where people love getting the same thing again and again. If you scroll through some of those big holiday movie listings at Netflix, Vudu, Tubi, or whatever platform you like to use, you’ll see the same themes showing up again and again in hundreds of movies. Literally, hundreds. Holiday romance. Small towns. Loveable pets. Holiday romance in small towns. Loveable pets saving the holidays in small towns. Seriously, you’re chuckling but you probably know a dozen stories like this, right? I think there’s a whole holiday romance subgenre.

My point being, if I want to appeal to that market, it’s very important that I don’t do anything too new or radical. This audience is looking for a sort of comfort food. They want to know that he ends up with her, she ends up with him, and that the dog lives and saves Christmas. Breaking these traditions might arguably make a more interesting story, yeah, but that’s not what these are about. He ends up with her. She ends up with him. The dog saves Christmas. Done.

So think about stories this holiday season.  Do I want them as a general background? Do I want to put a clever spin on something old? Do I want to lean into one of those niches? Whichever one I’m thinking about... I should put in a little extra thought. Just to be safe.

Next time, performance reviews.

Until then... I wish you all a peaceful Solstice, happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, joyous Kwanzaa, gleeful Boxing Day, and a glorious Ascension of Tzeentch.

Now go write.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Some Artsy Thoughts

It’s getting near the end of the year and I figured I could get out one or two of the Deep Thoughts About Writing that have been marinating in my brain for a few months. Will they be any good? I don’t know. Marinating can be tricky sometimes. Leave stuff in to long and it just becomes this weird-tasting mush.

Anyway...

If you’ve followed this collection of rants for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t talk about the art of writing that much. It’s not an accident. I believe that most art is highly subjective. I’m also a big believer that this subjectivity means any attempt to deliberately create Art (capital A) is usually wasted effort and, well, kinda pretentious. I also tend to think that sometimes when people talk about Art they’re... hmmmmmmm how to say this politely?

I think they’re making excuses. I think sometimes Art becomes an easy shield to protect a writer from criticism. If art is highly subjective in and of itself, whether or not it’s any good is very subjective. And if any of you have ever visited the internet (surprise—you’re there now) you’ve probably encountered one or two thousand people who are more than willing to explain how and why THIS is the greatest achievement of all mankind. Don’t agree? Well then you just don’t get it.

What I wanted to do was talk a little bit about where I think most attempts at Art go off the rails. Not all attempts, sure, because there’s a bunch of ways, but maybe the top two. Out of, y’know... a hundred and eight or so.

Also, as I have once or thrice in the past, you may see me using tale a lot here. I’m not trying to sound epic or artsy (oh the irony), I’m just trying to cut down on confusion in a couple places. Consider this your warning.

Once or thrice I’ve mentioned Shane Black and his ideas on plot vs. story. I’ve explored them a few different ways, but for time’s sake let’s just say plot is what’s going on outside my character, story is what goes on inside my characters. My own corollary to this is that plot tends to be active, whereas story tends to be reactive.

Now, again, it’s not a 100% every time thing (maybe 83%), but I’ve noticed that most attempts to be artistic lean really heavily on the story side of things. Plot is all but ignored in favor of long monologues about feelings and relationships and purpose and maybe even Art (yeah, seriously meta, I know). In the movie world these sometimes get called character pieces, and they’re usually about people sitting around airports or restaurants or taking long road trips and just... talking.

Nothing ever really happens in these stories. People talk about things that did happen, or might happen, or they’d like to happen, but at the end of the day.. they’re just talking. A key sign is that the characters in most of these tales have no arc, mostly because there’s no plot pushing them to change or develop. Their story never really goes anywhere because, without a plot, there’s no reason for it to go anywhere.

And that’s the catch. Every tale worth telling is a careful balance between plot and story. It’s the things happening outside that my characters are actively engaging in, and how these things are actively affecting and changing my characters. Key word there—active. When I upset that balance, things stop happening. Either my character stops doing things or they stop developing. Or both.

For the record, either one of these is bad. Both is just downright awful. We want active characters who grow and change. I mean... everybody gets that, right?

The other big thing in attempts to be artistic is language. Excessively elaborate descriptions using increasingly arcane vocabulary. Labyrinthine sentence structure in which one could perhaps lose a minotaur. Like, a full-size minotaur.

There’s probably something to be said for the fact that most attempts at writing art lean toward complexity over simplicity. And again, this is one of those times when defensive writers tend to whip around and say this failure is the reader’s fault. “Do you think I should lower the quality of my writing just because you got such a pathetic education you don’t know what uxorious, mytacism, or atramentous mean?”

When I’m writing my primary goal has to be that my readers understand what I’m trying to say. If they don’t understand page one, I can’t blame them for not going to page two. There are ways to make these things work, sure, but I’ve got to accept nobody’s picking up my books hoping for a vocabulary lesson or that they'll need a spreadsheet to keep track of my spiraling plot.

Fun note. When I went looking for the most obscure adjectives I could find, one of the first results was a list titled “100 Exquisite Adjectives” (emphasis mine) which I’d guess was about 20% rare and obscure words most readers wouldn’t know. So let me just ask you... how exquisite is sallisthorian as words go? Do you think most readers would find me pretentious for describing a character that way? Is it too on the nose? If they’ve got no idea what it means, is it their fault for not knowing or my fault for using it?

Oh, and for the record, I just made up sallisthorian while writing this. I’m saying it means “like the Man-Thing” (who was, of course, known as Ted Sallis when he was human). And if anybody wants to argue about how were we supposed to know what that means... well, that’s kinda my point, isn’t it?

Y’see, Timmy, that’s the catch with all these sort of artistic additions. I can stick in deep, emotional monologues or elaborate descriptions or super-obscure words just to show how smart or artistic I am, but at the end of the day there needs to be an actual story that my readers understand. It’s a lot like easter eggs—in the end, my story needs to work despite all this stuff. If I’m hoping my story’s going to get by on pretty vocabulary and one long speech about what freedom means to me... it’s probably not going to happen.

Next time, it’s the season and all, so I’d like to talk to you about the holiday season.

Until then, go write.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

NaNoWriMo Aftermath

And now we rejoin our ranty writing blog, already in progress.

Hey, everyone. Thanks for sticking with me through the Black Friday stuff and the Cyber Monday stuff and then even more good book stuff on top of that. Hopefully it’s all helped you a little bit with the holidays.

I don’t know about you, but NaNoWriMo is still kinda fresh in my mind. With Thanksgiving right there at the very end of the month, it left me feeling like I’d been kinda cheated out of a week, y’know? More of a NaNoWriThreeWeeks.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t hit my word count goals for the month. By a long shot. I ended up hosting/moderating two Coffeehouses last month and the dystopian book club. Plus a day doing some promo stuff for an upcoming project. Plus my parents came out for Thanksgiving so, y’know, an extra level of cleaning and neatening. All in all... I think I lost close to two weeks. You probably needed to focus on some of them, too, right? I mean, I’m not the only one who had to do work stuffOr holiday stuff.

But I’m okay with it. I still got a lot done, even if not as much as I’d hoped. Also figured out a major narrative issue that’d been nagging at me for ages.

And that’s kinda what I wanted to talk about. Before the month started, I mentioned that “NaNoWriMo” is deceptive because we’re not really trying to write a novel in a month. We’re trying to write a first draft in a month. A rushed, hurried, often truncated first draft.

Thing is... even that’s a bit misleading. Because if the ultimate goal was to get an even slightly passable first draft this month, pretty much everybody would fail. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’m willing to bet the majority of people who do NaNoWriMo don’t complete a draft. And I’ll go a little further out on this limb (and even hand you a saw) and say I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the folks who do finish have drafts that... well, let’s politely say they’re drafts need SO much work they’re effectively going to be rewriting the whole thing in their next draft. 

And hopefully they at least realize they need another draft.

So here’s my take for you. First, stop thinking about “winning” NaNoWriMo. This was a marathon, and most people don’t run marathons with the sole goal of winning them. Because if that’s my only goal, I’m going to be disappointed. A lot.

Most of us run marathons just to see if we can do them. The goal isn’t to be first—to win—it’s just to see if we can actually make it to the finish line. I don’t know about you, but I’d be friggin' thrilled to finish a marathon, even if it took me three or four hours. Hell, if I could do a half marathon in that time I’d be kinda proud.

That said... point the second. What did I get done during NaNoWriMo? How much did I write? How many words got put down

Y’see, Timmy, the real goal here shouldn’t be winning, it’s just getting to the finish line. Sometimes—for most people—that takes a little longer. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s totally fine.

What I should’ve gotten out of this was how many words I can write in a month. because now I know how many words I can write in a month. Which means I can do it again this month. And next month? Hell, January’s clear sailing. No holidays, nothing to slow me down. Now I know exactly how long it’s going to take for me to finish that 90,000 word first draft. I have a solid, very attainable goal because I just showed myself how much I can write in a month.

So celebrate finishing NaNoWriMo. Even if you didn’t “win.” Because you won in the way that really matters.

Next time... I’d like to talk about writing as art.

Until then, go write.

And congrats again on NaNoWriMo.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Other Fantastic Books for You

Okay, I did the Cyber-Monday marketing thing the other day. Now let me tell you about a bunch of other amazing books you could—nay, should pick up as gifts for your loved ones.

These are all some things I read this year (or I read earlier, but they came out this year). Nobody pushed for these, they’re in no particular order or anything, they’re just books I really enjoyed. And I’m betting you’ll enjoy some of  them too.

Well, I’m starting this list with a lie, which isn’t great. I read this book before it came out, and it was so freakin’ good I put it on last year’s list anyway, even though it didn’t come out until this year. Imagine if your strange mutant ability was bringing out the absolute best, self-actualized version of people, and you activated this gift with... sex. It’s thought-provoking, a bit naughty, and does some wonderful things with the ideas of what it means to be your best and the responsibility of having such a gift.
This story about two new workers at the local distribution center of a *cough* large internet merchant has tons to say about relationships, technology, business practices, and just morality in general. I guess it’s technically sci-fi because it’s in the not-too-distant-future, and some of the tech is slightly advanced, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a far-out, stretching-things-too-much element. It’s a fast, easy, and wonderfully disturbing read. 

Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara
How have you not heard about his book already? It’s fantastic. It’s the true story of the woman who designed the legendary Creature from the Black Lagoon and then got pretty much erased from history by her jealous boss. It’s a brutally honest look inside Hollywood then and now that still manages to be upbeat and positive.

The Fat Lady Sings by Sean Patrick Traver
Okay, this one’s more of a novella but it’s part of Traver’s absolutely wonderful Temple, Tree, and Tower universe (world?) that’s appeared on lists here in the past. A centuries old wizard, currently inhabiting the body of a black cat, takes on a new apprentice to help him protect Los Angeles. It’s ridiculous fun with just the right amount of creepy.
This book has one of the creepiest beginnings I’ve read in a while (serious Event Horizon vibes) and then it brings in... okay, I don’t want to ruin it. But this is a wonderful story of guilt and love and it’s kind of a gothic romance in space but with more infectious spores.
I’ve pushed the Eric Carter books on some of you before, about a necromancer in modern, Aztec-magic-influenced Los Angeles. With this latest one, book four in the series, Stephen moves his noir urban fantasy into a whole new level of amazing. These books have always been really good but this one was just fantastic. I think I shrieked with glee three or four times while reading it. Seriously.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Okay, look. To be shamefully honest, I picked this up because I saw it on a couple lists and I thought the cover was pretty cool. And y’know what? Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover because this book is freakin’ magnificent. It’s about Maggie, a professional monster hunter on a post-apocalyptic Navajo reservation. And if that doesn’t get you excited, I really don’t know why we’re even friends. Seriously. Stop texting me.

Our War by Craig diLouie
Full disclosure, I’ve known Craig years longer than any other author on this list, but he honestly still astounds me with the level of emotional gut-punching he manages to bring to everything he writes. This is the story of an all-too plausible second American civil war and the brother and sister child soldiers who find themselves on opposite sides.

Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey
Odds are this one’s crossed your radar screen sometime this year. A fantastic story about what it’s like to be the sister who isn’t chosen to go to Hogwarts (so to speak). There’s a lot of emotions in this book, and that’s without the murder mystery aspect of it.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Goddamm I loved this book. It has so many things I love. Fantastic characters. A good mystery. Some great twists. Cutting edge science. And considering how long he spent writing it (it’s a monster of a book) it’s ended up being eerily prescient in a lot of political/societal ways.

Holy sweet craptacular jeebus. A bunch of people told me I would love this book but I really didn’t expect to LOVE this book as much as I did. In a super-simplified nutshell, the foundling squire of a royal household of necromancers has to pose as their most decorated knight and serve as bodyguard to the adopted “sister” who’s made her life hell for years. Plus there’s some murders, tons of skeletons, and some wonderfully filthy humor. It’s just so much fun.
It’s been a looooong time since I’ve enjoyed a straight fantasy series this much. Although I guess this is technically a steampunk fantasy? The Sacred Throne series is the story of (again, quick version) Heloise a peasant girl who hides in a suit of steampunk armor, ends up fighting a demon, and is now lauded as a saint by all her fellow villagers and expected to lead them against the tyrannical church that rules over them. The characters are fantastic. The battle scenes are amazing. 

And as a last note, I’m only about thirty pages into Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James but holy crap. If the whole book's this good it might just be my favorite of the year.

There you have it. Some of my favorite reads of the year. If you check back in a week, there maybe more added to this list. And I think you can find almost all of them at your favorite local bookstore so... get going. You’re going to have to mail stuff next week if you want it to get there in time for the holidays.

Also, please please please let me know if you’re someone who might benefit from my Black Friday offer. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. It's not much, but if you need a hand, just say so.

Anyway... tomorrow let’s talk about writing.

Yeah, tomorrow. Let’s get back to it.

Until then, go write.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Cyber Monday VIII: The Capitalisming

Well, it’s that time of year where ugly truths must be addressed. Artists get paid when people buy their art, which gives them the freedom to make more art.

So I’m going to ask you to buy some books.

I know, it’s weird and kinda awkward for all of us, but this is the season for giving and if you wanted to give somebody one of my books (even if that somebody is YOU) I’d really appreciate it. They might too, if my stories are there sorta thing. So here’s a list of my books and a few anthologies and collections I’ve got stories in.  Put them on your wish list or get them as gifts for friends and family members.

Also, I’ve sprinkled a few Amazon links in here for the books that aren’t available anywhere else, but really you should just be going to your local bookstore and asking for a copy. They’re very cool, they could use the business, and this way you’re not one of those conformists sheeple falling for that Cyber Monday capitalist nonsense. You’ll get to brag about that until Valentine’s Day, easy.

Anyway...

Dead Moon came out back in February as an Audible exclusive (read by the always-fantastic Ray Porter) and now it’s available as an ebook as well. Alas, there is no paper version at the moment. Sorry. It’s about a woman who runs away to the Moon and finds... well, zombies on the Moon. And some other things, too. It’s spooky and fun and I’m quite proud of it.

Paradox Bound is my New York Times-bestselling story about infatuation, road trips, American history, a pretty cool train and some pretty creepy antagonists. F.Paul Wilson said it was like Doctor Who crossed with National Treasure, and if that doesn’t get you interested I don’t know what will. There’s an audiobook, ebook, paperbacks, and you might even find a hardcover here or there if you’re lucky.

At least a third of you have probably found your way here because of my odd little Lovecraftian-sci-fi-urban-horror-mystery novel--14. Alas, the paperback has gone out of print, but there’s still an ebook and a phenomenal audiobook narrated by Ray Porter. And there might be more versions in the year to come, but we’ll talk about those when we can...

Somebody once described The Fold as a horror-suspense novel disguised as a sci-fi-mystery, and I’ve always liked that. It’s available in pretty much every format you can imagine, and it’s also part of my “unconnected series” of Threshold books.

Another big bunch of you are here because of the Ex-Heroes series. Superheroes fighting zombies in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles (and a few other places).  Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, and Ex-Isle. All of these are available in a number of formats and a number of languages.

Good news! My weird-but-fantastic mashup novel, The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, is finally available as an audiobook. Bad news... at the moment it’s only available as an audiobook. Sorry. Hoping to fix that soon, but I really think the audiobook might be a better format for this one.If you really want paper, call around to your local bookstore and you might find one still hanging our on a shelf somewhere.

You can pick up The Junkie Quatrain as either an ebook or an audiobook (still no paper, sorry).  It’s my attempt at a “fast zombies” tale, a series of interconnected stories I’ve described as Rashomon meets 28 Days Later.  It also features a recurring character of mine, Quilt, who keeps showing up in different stories in one way or another... 

I also have a short story collection called Dead Men Can’t Complain.  It’s got a bunch of stories I’ve had published over the years in various anthologies and journals, plus a few original ones. Some are scar, some are kinda funny, one or two of them might even be called heartwarming.  It’s an Audible exclusive, and it’s read by Ray Porter and Ralph Lister.

Past that... okay, look. There’s a ton of anthologies out there but because some of them have limited print runs or licensing deals I’m not sure what is or isn’t available at the moment. The best I can do at this point is give you a quick list and when you’re in your friendly local bookstore... browse around for a minute or three. They might have a copy of something.

X-Files: Trust No One

Naughty or Nice

Bless Your Mechanical Heart

The World is Dead

Kaiju Rising

Mech: Age of Steel

Worth mentioning—please check those last two if you stumble across them. The books went into reprints with some contractural changes I couldn’t agree to, so my stories aren’t in the new editions. Only the older ones. So make sure you get those at a store where you can look at them.

Thus ends my shameless Cyber Monday appeal to you.  Again, so very sorry we had to do this, but it really does make the marketing folks happy and they’ve always been really good to me. Also, like I have in the past, in the next day or two I’ll also do another list with some of the great books I’ve read by other, much better authors, so please check back. And please don’t forget my Black Friday offer if you happen to be one of the folks who might need it.

And now, please resume your internet shopping. Browse responsibly. Clear your history on a regular basis. Especially you, Doug. No, sweet jeebus, don’t click on that—that’s not really from PayPal.

And we’ll be back to regular writing stuff on Thursday.