Is your work product or art?

Bit of a trick question, that.

Art is also a product. The question has more to do with production values. There’s a difference in the care put into producing a Velvet Elvis and the Mona Lisa. It has nothing to do with Da Vinci thinking, “Yeah, some day, hot dang, I’ll be remembered for this.” I doubt he did. It was commissioned work. But he definitely put more time into it than he made on the commission. He wanted to do a good job.

Not sure anybody on the Velvet Elvis production line has such thoughts. Ever heard anybody at a burgerjoint call from out back, “Wow, Charlie! That’s one damn good fry you made!”?

The “work versus product” question has been with me since January of this year (2020). I took a class with a recognized, award winning author.
Continue reading “Is your work product or art?”

What’s Your Plan B? (or “After 100 Agents, what?”)

We don’ need no stinkin’ Plan Bs

“I plan on becoming an internationally renowned brain surgeon.”
“That’s great. Except you’re a straight D student, you have essential tremor, and anybody who really wants to become a brain surgeon would know enough to call it ‘neurosurgeon’. So what’s your Plan B?

Plan B. The fallback. The backup. The “what you do when what you want doesn’t happen.”

I’ve always had trouble with the concept of a Plan B.

It was as if somewhere in my teens I said to myself, “Let’s see… I can do well in school, go to college, get a degree and lead a totally mundane, boring, completely unfulfilled life. Or I can become a superhero…” and I saw that and said, “Screw that. The rest of the world can go on the straight and narrow,” and I took a left.
Of course, the path I chose meant I’d be misunderstood, have enemies, have to solve bigger than life problems, that kind of stuff, but even if I chose the simple path I’d be telling myself I was still doing those things. The superhero path also meant I’d be respected and honored and sought after, and again, I’d be telling myself those things were true even if I took the simple path.
So somewhere in my teens I figured, “What the hell?”
I took a left and never looked back.

For one thing, having a Plan B is distracting. Every time there’s a bump on your Plan A road, you take a moment or two to decide if this is when you should switch to Plan B.

Nobody seems to note that all those moments, all that decision making, all it really is is a loss of focus on your goal for Plan A.

Remember, Plan B is your fallback. It’s what you settle for. It’s less than what you wanted. When Kennedy committed the USA to landing on the moon by the end of the decade, nobody stood up and said, “But if we never leave low Earth orbit, that’s cool, too!” The goal was The Moon. Anything else would be Not Moon.

Anybody notice the subtle shift I did there? I talked about the goal, not how to reach the goal. Any plan – A, B, C, H, Q, Fromblitz, whatever – is how you get to your goal.
Continue reading “What’s Your Plan B? (or “After 100 Agents, what?”)”

My apologies

Long ago and far away I received a letter (shows how long ago this was) from AJ Budrys congratulating me on getting my short story, Cymodoce, nominated for the Nebula (1995).

Flattered, honored, and I mention it when it seems appropriate.

Someone wrote me they couldn’t find any record of my nomination.

First, Wow! It’s important enough to you you looked it up? I’m flattered and honored all over again.

But it did make me curious. I emailed SFWA

Is there a list of Nebula first round nominees available? I remember receiving a letter (an indication of how long ago this was) from AJ Budrys re a story of mine, Cymodoce (Tomorrow Magazine, 1995), congratulating me on being a first round nominee.
Does SFWA/Nebula keep first-round nominee records? And if so, do they go that far back?

and just now (3 Jun 20, 12:38pmET) received

Yes, we do keep records. Your story did receive a recommendation listed in the Nebula Awards Report, but this was not considered being a “first round nominee.” It required ten recommendation to make the preliminary ballot.

Hence I apologize for the confusion.

And you know what?


Yeah. I’m good with that.

I’ll take it until something better comes along.

(and i will be updating my marketing materials as time allows (wondering if i can get away with calling it a typo…))

Why It Works for Me – Brian Fagan’s “The Little Ice Age”

This is the ninth in a series I’m doing wherein I discuss why a particular piece of writing works for me, aka, this piece of writing taught me something about writing, encouraged me to be a better writer, engaged me, captivated me, educated me, et cetera.

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s one thing to know something is good, it’s a better thing (in my opinion) to know why it’s good and then be able to copy what’s good about it, to learn from it so you can be as good and (hopefully) better.

This time out, Brian Fagan’s “The Little Ice Age”. I also shared Brian Fagan’s “The First North Americans” in episode seven.



Shaman Story Chapter X – The Wild, The Shadows

[I mentioned in Shaman Story Chapter 5 – Lessons that chapter numbering would get wonky as Shaman Story is a work in progress. This week’s entry bears that out, as it comes before chapter 6 and after chapter 5. So far. I think.]

Read Shaman Story Chapter 5 – Lessons.

Shaman Story Chapter X – The Wild, The Shadows

Grandpa teaches me about Shadows. We walk through a forest and greet everyone we meet. “Hello, Tree! Hello, Ash! Hello, Ant! Hello, Spider!”

“Do you know who these are, Gio?”

“These are my friends.”

Grandpa smiles. “Yes, they are your friends. They are also Shadows.”


“Yes. Everything here is a shadow of what really is.”

“The tree is not a tree?”

“The tree,” he points, “Is not Tree.”

“It’s a maple.”

He laughs. “That maple tree is not Maple.”

I hear the emphasis in his words.

“In all things, there is one which is the first of that thing. Everything else is a shadow of that first.”

I watch a snail inching up a birch. “Where is Snail, then?”

“A place of such brilliance it casts it shadow so every other snail exists.”

“But where, Grandpa?”


A simple word. I hear the emphasis. Not where Grandma sits spinning threads, weaving, making me clothes. Some place other.

I put my hand by the snail. Its antennae tickle me. It waves them at me to see who I am. “Hello, Gio.”

“It knows who I am, Grandpa!”

“This is The Wild, Gio. Everything is known here. When you want to know something, go to The Wild. If there is an answer, you’ll find it.”

A raven comes. It flaps by the snail, snatching it in its beak, flying away.”

I cry.

“That is the way of The Wild, Gio.”

“That snail was my friend.”

“Is raven your friend?”

I sniffle. “Yes.”

“And the birch tree?”


“But sometimes we cut down a tree for firewood. We load up the truck and take it home.”

I am confused and answer slowly. “Yes.”

Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!